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July 31, 2006

now he'll do that pathetic sighing thing whenever the letter 'f' is uttered, or we see someone in a beret

Ampersand duck has made me sound really interesting over here. I think I'd like to make friends with those people. Then eat all their food and run off into the night, cackling... well, maybe waddle off into the afternoon.

Look over here at stack. Stacks of slacks. No, stacks of books, really (funny how you meet more booknerds on the internet than in bookshops, huh? Guess it's a wordy* thing).

And you must, in the spirit of all things cute (and in honour of The Squeeze, who loves this shit), go look here to see more of this sort of action:
(stolen from here)

...I shouldn't have let him know about that. Now he'll do that pathetic sighing thing whenever the letter 'f' is uttered, or we see someone in a beret.

*worder? wordsmith? wordnerd? werd!

"now he'll do that pathetic sighing thing whenever the letter 'f' is uttered, or we see someone in a beret" was posted by dogpossum on July 31, 2006 9:00 PM in the category clicky

Joe Turner's Boss of the Blues

There's a reason they call these doods shouters.

The second of my amazingly quick-to-arrive CDs from Caiman (less than 2 weeks from Europe), I'm sucking up Big Joe Turner's Boss of the Blues.

The super-jazz-nerds amongst you are no doubt thrilling to the thought of Freddie Greene playing on this 1956 recording. The rest of you should just settle in and enjoy... take care to get a firm grip on the sofa, lest Turner blows you away.

I've not had that much experience with Joe Turner. I have bunches of his stuff with people like Basie, and I'm pretty fond of most of it, but this is the first proper Big Joe Turner album I've bought. I like it. It's uncompromising. I like those shouters - I love Dinah Washington especially. I like the thought that most of them started singing in church, and all that shouting is about Jesus. But Jesus dancing with his skirt up round his hips, on a table, dancing the crazy-I'm-dancing!-I'm-dancing!-like-a-fool type of dancing.

There's lots on this album for DJing, from saucy blues to jumpy lindy, but our favourites in this house are the boogie woogie bits - that version of Roll 'em Pete makes you want to run around like a fool*. Sometimes the quality is kind of fagged** by Turner's volume. But that's kind of cool. Like feedback on a Nirvana album in 1992.

*funnily enough, I was just listening to my 'lindy music' on shuffle and came across another version of that song that I really, really like and wish I had more opportunities to play for dancers (from Basie's Breakfast Dance and BBQ). It clocks in at 230bpm, so it's kind of not all that playable most of the time. It starts: "Well I got a gal, she lives up on the hill" and continues...

**using this term the way my dad would - meaning 'tired' or totally buggered from overwork.

"Joe Turner's Boss of the Blues" was posted by dogpossum on July 31, 2006 8:35 PM in the category digging and djing and music

Alberta Hunter's Downhearted Blues

While I fear I'll die of old age before my order from raisedonrecords (via Amazon) comes, I've received both my recent acquisitions form via amazon (they rock - Caiman are always really quick to deliver and no hassle to deal with). The first was Alberta Hunter's Downhearted Blues, a live recording by one of my favourite artists. You can read about her over on allmusic, but I think the phrase 'dirty lesbian nanna' pretty much sums it up. This album is fun - you can hear that nanna working the crowd. Not so much for DJing, but it's certainly worth listening to, and heaps of fun.

"Alberta Hunter's Downhearted Blues" was posted by dogpossum on July 31, 2006 8:27 PM in the category digging and djing and music

not in any way i'd like to advertise

Every now and then there comes along a bit of music that gets inside you (to pilfer a metaphor) and makes you want to move your body.

As a DJ for dancers, I’d like that bit of music to come along more frequently. And to bring its friends. While you usually have to hunt them down, sometimes you come across these lovely things hiding in your collection, probably inside a crappy black and white CD cover for something you bought second hand. Sometimes they’re hiding in massive collected works collection on your hard drive (probably in the huge and wonderful Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings Ellington – I promise I’ll get through the remaining ten of twenty-four discs soon).

Right now I’m just sucking up Oscar Peterson’s Bluesology At The Concertgebouw [live]. It has everything late swinging jazz should – saucy bass action, unbelievable piano, chunking guitar (that's Ray Brown and Herb Ellis, respectively), kind of growly unintelligible muttering from the Oscar at the piano… did I mention this was a live recording? You can hear the audience digging the thing these excellent musicians have going on. You can hear Oscar mumbling along to his piano (and we can assume Clark Terry’s vocals on Mumbles (check it on this album if you're interested) were inspired by this sort of action). You can just feel these seasoned musicians really working with each other, bouncing musical ideas around far beyond the ordinary length of a pop song. It goes for a massive nine minutes twenty-two – far too long for DJing to most lindy hoppers, but oh-baby, if I ever find just the right crowd…
They’d have to be a group of mellow lindy hoppers, heavy on the groove, happy to work with one partner for the equivalent of three songs (luckily at an easy 120bpm – which, for the uninitiated, is still more than two steps a second, but considered ‘baby tempo’ by lindy hoppers). And they’d better appreciate this gem…

As a DJ, as I’ve said, you’re continually on the look out for the right songs. Some DJs swap music just for the right three minutes. Morally high horse types like myself spurn this fannish exchange and have spent ridiculous sums buying a ridiculous number of albums for just that one perfect song. And while I’ve come back to those albums to rediscover the other great songs overshadowed by That One, I’ve also shoved the CD into the bookcase, or failed to catalogue the rest of it into my play lists. Lost and gone forever. itunes and emusic are your friend in these sorts of situations – I’d never buy a whole City Rhythm Orchestra album, but I’m very happy with the version of Blues in Hoss’s Flat (check that one on this album" - are you getting an idea of the sorts of uses lindy DJs make of Amazon, yet?) I bought from itunes the other day.

This version of Bluesology ends with applause for at least twenty-two seconds, until the musicians bring on the next song (When Lights are Low, incidentally, and almost as good). The very best songs for dancing are usually live – or carry some of the improvisation and creative team work that makes jazz so great for dancing. For lindy hoppers, improvisation is the reason we dance – we learn the basic steps so we can get to the made up bits. And of course, it’s so’s we can do what we hear in the music with our bodies. When it’s a live recording, you can hear the crowd and musicians really making something wonderful together. To call it a conversation is too easy or too simple. Every partner dancer knows it’s not like talking – it’s a much faster and more efficient way of communicating with someone. With lots of someones.

I think that’s the sort of thing that the best DJs aim for – recreating that relationship between musicians and dancers. As a musician, you choose the notes and how you play them to work with the other musicians and the audience and possibly the dancers to make for the nicest possible bit of group work. As a DJ, though, you’re choosing and combining songs for the same effect. The same principles of improvisation and spontaneity apply. You’re still responding and contributing to your dance partner – it’s just that you have hundreds of dance partners, and you can’t get your hands on them to get connection.

So when you find just the right song – the sort of song that makes you want to leap up off your chair – you’re not just scoring something nice to listen to or enjoy on your own. You’re finding something that’ll help you get it going on with as many people as possible. All at once.
The only frustration, the only irritation with sharing the most excellent songs with dancers is that you can’t dance yourself… well, not in any way you’d like to advertise…

"not in any way i'd like to advertise" was posted by dogpossum on July 31, 2006 8:08 PM in the category music

July 30, 2006

"Emma Dawson: Left out of debate by convoluted speaking"

Is this headline more than a comment on Emma Dawson feeling excluded, or the Left's irrelevence to public discourse?

In recent days there’s been an ongoing discussion about this article in the Australian by Emma Dawson. My responses to both the original article and the responding discussion on the CSAA list have been mixed. In that article, Dawson discusses her personal response to a notice for the Everyday Multiculturalism conference to be held at Macquarie Uni in Sydney in September.

First, my response to Dawson’s article was a little different to some of the comments on the CSAA list. While I did feel a little uncomfortable with the way Dawson’s critique of academic terminology, in the context of the Australian served as a critique of ‘the left’, I’m not sure this was how she intended her words be read. My first instinct was ‘oh, she’s not comfortable with acka talk.’ That she positioned herself as a Phd candidate encouraged me to sympathise with her, reading her feelings of exclusion as a result, perhaps of her inexperience with academia.

Listening to this ABC podcast on media ownership legislation in Canada today, my memory was jogged in regards to where I’d heard of Dawson before. I remembered this story on the ABC’s Media Report on the introduction of advertising on public broadcasters, featuring Dawson as a special guest discussing SBS in light of her Phd reseach and experience with the station. I remember thinking that Dawson was one of the ‘good guys’.

I decided to follow up some of my feelings about her article and CSAA discussion by reading up on Dawson a little further. I discovered that she’s written for the New Matilda, a lefty online magazine, and that she’s doing work on SBS, and had worked at SBS as a journalist.

With this in mind, I’m leaning towards the suspicion that Dawson’s article on lefty academic talk was perhaps read in context, by many on the CSAA list (and beyond), taken as one point in a series of critiques of lefty ideology and discourse, rather than as a distinct piece discussing the intimidating and off-putting nature of academic talk. This is not an unlikely response – the Australian opinion pages are rife with lefty/academic bashing these days.

This fascinates me as an example of the ways in which we take context – the newspaper in which an article is positioned, the recent articles on a similar topic, using similar terms and ‘buzz words’ (or making similar selections from a shared interpretive repertoire, to reference Potter and Wetherall), even the placement of an article on a page (or screen), in relation to other pieces – in our readings of meaning and ideological ‘intention’. In fact, this stuff fascinated me so much I wrote my MA on similar stuff.

Setting aside those issues of form and text and context which appeal to my critical discourse analysis side, perhaps it’s worth engaging with the issues Dawson actually raises in her piece – her opinion piece?

Perhaps Dawson was encouraging lefty academics to engage more thoroughly with everyday discourse by using everyday discourse?

As some posters to the CSAA list noted, that’s not such a bad idea. And yet, on the other hand, as others responded (and I myself feel), sometimes we need to use big words. Sometimes we need to get together and use big words. And academic conferences seem the most appropriate place for this sort of talk. After all, we wouldn’t expect a doctor to abandon the technical terms of their profession to discuss medical matters with their peers at a conference, would we?

Dawson, however, seems justified in expecting a conference on ‘everyday multiculturalisms’ to use everyday language. It’s unfortunate that the ‘everyday language’ of academia can be so impenetrable. Speaking as a (just about to submit) Phd candidate with quite a few years as a postgraduate researcher under my belt, I do actually think that it is a little naïve for a postgrad to expect an academic conference to use un-academic discourse. I mean, these are complex issues that we are dealing with, and at times we need complex language and conceptual tools to put them together or take them apart.

I wonder, though, if Dawson is a journalism student, rather than a cultural studies student, and has perhaps run into one of the most irritating stumbling blocks in world of ‘media studies’? I remember a one-day conference I attended in Brisbane in the early days of my MA (1998? 1999?) called Media Wars where I first ran into Keith Windshuttle, and was infuriated by his nasty attacks on my (then and now) hero Graybags Turner – it wasn’t the nicest introduction to the tensions between journalism and cultural studies. Though my impression that journalism (as the old kid on the block) seemed particularly threatened by media and cultural studies remains (or perhaps that was just Windshuttle’s problem with Turner… threatened by his gentle manner? His friendliness? Or perhaps his stone-washed jeans?*). It seems to me that there are many journalists and journalism academics who have a great deal of trouble with the methods and language of cultural studies. Not trouble in that they don’t understand it or aren’t capable of understanding it, but trouble in that it signifies a profound deviation from traditional quantifiable approaches to the media that sits so uneasily with many workers in the field.

So perhaps Dawson was thinking that a conference titled ‘Everyday multiculturalism’, would be using the everyday language of an academic discipline with which she was familiar? And when she read the call for papers, felt uncertain of her ability to participate in the discourse (though I do think she has a great deal to offer the discussions, particularly in regards to multicultural television). She wrote:

The call for papers started like this: "Papers ... will engage with the quotidian dimensions of living with diversity. Quotidian diversity has variously been described as togetherness-in-difference (Ang 2000), and inhabiting difference (Hage 1998). We take the term to mean those perspectives on cultural diversity which recognise the embodied or inhabited nature of living with cultural difference."

The elite intellectual language discouraged me from proposing a paper, and the very idea was firmly quashed by the suggestion that: "Papers which take an embodied approach, such as through frameworks such as affect or Bourdieu's habitus are also particularly welcome."

I am a PhD student in the field and have published several (admittedly non-academic) articles on cultural diversity. However, this sort of gobbledygook leaves me cold.

And then she wrote:
Lest I be sternly rebuked by fellow students and researchers, let me make it clear that I fully support rigorous scholarship and will vigorously defend the right of academics to contribute to the intellectual development of the human race at the most theoretical level. The apparently abstract and often obscure work by researchers in social sciences and cultural studies is essential to the development of ideas.
Followed by:
But this is a conference entitled Everyday Multiculturalisms, and one of its stated aims is to reflect on last December's riots in Sydney's Cronulla shire. There's nothing particularly "everyday" about the language used to invite participation. Nor is there much focus on creating work that resonates beyond intellectual circles.
(all quotes from the article referenced above).

I think Dawson makes a point. The sort of hard-core academic language in the call for papers is hardly in the vernacular of the un-university world.

But I do suspect that Dawson wrote with very little knowledge of the planning behind the conference, and that she wrote quickly without exploring the conference in any great detail (understandable for a journalist writing to a deadline).

Take this comment from Ien Ang in her post to the CSAA list:

It is a pity that Emma Dawson had chosen to single out Amanda Wise's call-for-papers text to make her points. Ironically, Amanda is one of the few people amongst us who has consistently engaged beyond academia in her work, either through public discussion or through collaborations with government or community groups. I therefore completely understand that she is upset.
(Ien Ang, email to CSAA list RE: Another attack on CS, sent: 29 July 2006 2:58:38 PM)
To explain, Wise raised the issue on the list with this email:
Any CSAA-ers want to write a letter defending us?

Another anti-left, anti-theory attack in today’s Australian, attacking the ‘Everyday Multiculturalism’ conference we are holding here at Macquarie University which a number of you are presenting at.,20867,19933096-7583,00.html

(Wise, to the CSAA list, Another attack on CS in the Oz, sent: 28 July 2006 11:11:28 AM)

I can imagine Wise’s frustration and upsetness, reading Dawson’s critique in the paper. As someone who’s in the middle of organising a massive event for my peers, there’s nothing as frustrating as mis-informed, negative criticism of your efforts when you’re working as hard as you can, not only to plan an excellent event, but to make that event as accessible and inclusive as you can. I can imagine it’s particularly trying for Wise, who’s working to produce a conference that will bring people together to discuss and workshop ideas to reduce injustice and exclusion and so on. Her email to the list was, I think, not only an interesting poke to a fairly quiet group of readers, but more importantly, a “Goddamn! Surely I don’t suck that much?” call for emotional and professional support from her peers.

Indeed, she writes:

Thanks for all this input. I was furious this morning, but have calmed down substantially! Softly, softly, I promise.

I think Greg (and others) make important points. I'll synthesise these arguments and write to her and something for the oz. Indeed; I might just invite her to give her a paper!

Its always the problem writing about the 'everyday' as you've all pointed out.

Another point to be made is that ED is quite patronising towards non-academics. We have lots of non-academics coming to this conference. They come in droves because they enjoy the stimulation of hearing fresh ideas which are theoretically informed. They are quite capable of understanding the work we present. Indeed, we deliberately pitched the conference CFP at attracting 'grounded' work; esp based on ethnographic and/or interview based approaches - so it's a conference full of accessible work.

But as Greg says; theory or otherwise, we have a perfect right as academics to congregate and discuss academic ideas in an academic forum. It is quite a separate question as to whether and how we subsequently communicate those ideas to the wider public.

Many of the speakers at our conference (including myself) are engaged in public debate through the media; through consulting with local, state and federal govt; through working community groups. We are quite capable of working at different registers. Ien Ang and Greg Nobles work (who are keynotes at the conf) is a case in point.

Thanks for the input. Lets see if the oz publishes my rebuttal op ed. I Hope you're all ok if I quote some of your emails


(RE: [csaa-forum] Another attack on CS in the Oz Sent: 28 July 2006 2:27:08 PM)

That Wise did respond so defensively is not only an indication of her own feelings as the event organiser, but of cultural studies’ researchers’ familiarity with such comments from the main stream media – “God, why don’t they understand how important my work is?” And while that might sound like a fairly snarky comment on my part, it’s a feeling that I sometimes have to stifle: why is it that we have to continually justify our work in terms that feel so limited and simplistic, when we’re working on ideas and relations that are so complex, and really do require such big words and ideas?

That’s the sort of question that various academics in our field continue to ask ourselves. Laknath Jayasinghe pointed out in their email:

In fact, this is something that Graeme Turner alluded to in a paper he delivered in 1999, arguing that--apart from the academic stuff we do--we should be doing more work in the 'public sphere', the broad public sphere, that is. I take my cue from him. I believe that we should build academic bridges, not remain on separate islands. The mass media here in Oz, from both my professional and academic experience, are open to articles and letters that take new and exciting ideas to the public--from all political positions. Of course, language must be modified and the ideas recrafted and tailored to the audience; very few allusions to Bhabha, Butler or Bourdieu here!
(Re: [csaa-forum] Another attack on CS in the Oz, sent: 28 July 2006 1:07:37 PM)

Graybags himself wrote, only minutes later:

For what it’s worth, I share Mark’s reading of it. There are real differences between attacks such as this one and that provided by Windschuttle. I think this person genuinely wanted to be informed by the conference and found that its language was alienating – and therefore suggested that maybe this is something we should think about if we want our work to have a social function. Given the topic of the conference, and its objectives, that’s not an unreasonable position. It is damaging to have it published in the Australian, and it may well be the case that its inclusion is motivated by rather less sympathetic considerations than its author’s, but we need to think carefully about this kind of stuff, take it one piece at a time, avoid characterising it as motivated by a particular pathology or orientation, and be alert to the possibility that they may actually have a genuine point with which we can engage.

A response could well admit the distance created by such language, while nonetheless defending the need for people to work through these issues in their own way and at the highest level, and suggest that while the context of the topic might be the everyday, the capacity to deal with these problems so as to fully understand them is quite clearly not something that is part of the everyday life of most people. That is where academics come in.

It might also be useful to take the lead from this piece and consider if there could be some more publicly accessible outcome from the conference that even a columnist for the Australian would not find alienating, but would find informative.

And, finally, given the regularity with which this kind of issue is raised – particularly by those writing in the Australian—it is probably helpful to be reconciled to the fact this comes with the territory of working in a critical discipline and we are always going to be called to account by those outside it. I think we can wear that responsibility.

(RE: [csaa-forum] Another attack on CS in the Oz. Sent: 28 July 2006 1:08:57 PM)
I won’t quote the emails sent by ‘Mark’ and ‘Greg’ (and others), but you get the point.

So, I think, at the end of a couple of days posting, I’m left with the following conclusions:

  • It’s crap to have your hard (community-focused) work slagged off in a very public and influential forum by someone who doesn’t appeared to have researched it properly
  • Cultural studies talk is fairly exclusive, and makes the uninitiated or unfamiliar feel dumb and excluded
  • While the previous might be the case, complex ideas need complex language tools, and then forums for their practice
  • Perhaps cultural studies researchers and writers need to do a bit of work on producing accessible descriptions of their work and ideas for the general public?

I’m not really sure how I feel about that last point. On the one hand, I do feel, very strongly, that there’s no point doing all this research if we can’t share it with everyone – not just other cultural studies stooges. Nancy Fraser has said most of the things I’d like to say about public discourse and access and exclusiory practices. She’s also made a point about feminism and theory – that we need pragmatic feminist theory to make positive feminist change in the world. I personally feel, that if we are to see more of the work and ideas of cultural studies represented in the mainstream media beyond those of a few (somewhat scary and not terribly representative) voices, we need to get scribbling.

Yet I can’t help but think: Dawson herself sounds like she’s doing the sort of work we should dig. But when she wrote what was, in itself, a fairly ‘harmless’ comment on the terms of discursive participation, she earned a serve from the Gang. Really, how useful or possible is the ‘accurate’ representation of the diversity and depth of ideas and research in cultural studies in the mainstream media?

*This was in the days before stone wash made a comeback – in that interim period between fashions.

==EDIT: Here's the first bloggage on the topic that I could find (even after scanning the CS stooge network): Tseen comments on Ivory Towers and the Everyday. I have a great deal of respect for Tseen and her work, so I might change me mind on this some time soon...==

""Emma Dawson: Left out of debate by convoluted speaking"" was posted by dogpossum on July 30, 2006 1:24 PM in the category academia

July 26, 2006

Smallville v Sunnydale

In the video shop* the other day, I picked up the first disc in the first season of Smallville.

I have to admit, I was inspired by my recent (and pleasant) experience with Superman Returns [insert insanely effusive gushing over the Alien Beauty that is the noo soops], and I'm not sure I'll stick with it (though I'm up to disc 2), and we do have plenty of Buffy and Angel to watch)...

Yeah, so anyway.

Smallville. I've been struck by the similarities between Buffy and Smallville. This is, no doubt, an illustration of the influence of Buffy on the genre I'm sure my supes would call 'teen supernatural' or something similar. I know there's been lots written about self-reflexivity and polyvocal texts 'n all - all lain to varying degrees at the door of Joss Whedon - but I think that Buffy had a more interesting influence on Smallville (or perhaps, that we can see similar tropes across this genre?).

Ok, now before I go any further, please do remember that this is a three-seconds-worth-of-thinking theory, in a post I'll probably publish as soon as I finish it, without re-reading (eek)...

Ok, so here's the thing I'd not realised about Smallville (what with never having watched it before):
In Buffy, particularly in the first 4 seasons, while Buffy was in High School (or was it 3 seasons?), the program was very much a story about teenagers, doing teen things, mostly in high school. Everyone knew there was something 'kind of weird' about Sunnydale, but nobody really took issue with it. Certainly, no one ever moved away. The city's proximity to the/a hellmouth justified all manner of strange and supernatural dealings, from girls who turned invisible to substitute teachers who were actually giant praying mantuses(i?).

Similarly, in Smallville all manner of strange things in the town are 'explained' by the presence of bits of meteorite which fell to Earth with Kal-El's space ship, way back there (in 1989 - god, it scares me that 1989 constitutes ye olde days in teenland today. I was 15 in 1989 and had already read every decent SF book known to familykind and secondhandshopdom). This is an interesting twist - it gives a little 'consistency' to the paranormalness of the town, with this paranormalness being something only Chloe seems to consciously recognise, despite the fact that there are at least a wall's worth of weirdness for her to seek out in local (and national) magazines, newspapers and other media. The whole meteorite thing also gives Clark something to feel guilty about. And guilt seems to be the S-Boy's stock in trade... maybe it's something for him to sublimate later on? Heck, I wish I was hip to psychoanalisis. I just know there's something I'm missing, what with all the father-son relationship action going down in Smallville.

All this interests me. While I don't buy that either Sunnydale or Smallville is actually in the 'country' (we all know Sunnydale is actually an outer suburb of LA - the Geelong or Ipswich of the city of Angelus, and sure as shit no one in Smallsville sports a Kansas accent...I think ?), I'm kind of caught by the idea that not only do terrible things happen more frequently in rural communities, but that rural communities also produce fiesty female characters**.

One other thing about the supernatural in Smallville that reminds me of Sunnydale is the way that 'super villians' are usually teenagers, or people in the teenage world - female students with envy issues, football coaches who need some anger management advice. Again, much has been written (and spoken) about the ways in which the monsters in Buffy represent the monstrous... or mundane in teenagerdom, but it seems Smallville is attempting the same sort of work. Far less effectively, of course, and with terribly inferior dialogue.

In a similar vein, please do read this discussion of race and class in Joss Whedon's work (from Feminist SF and discovered by Kate - strength to her for the moving thing). It's mighty interesting.
Now, I'd been thinking to myself, 'yeah, sure Whedon is neat, but, Self, should I be all yay! go! about another white guy writing for me, rather than a sister doing it for herself, television-writing-wise?'. In other words, I'd had reservations about the wholehearted and uncompromised passion for Joss Whedon which others seem to evince. I had had issues with the race thing. And that's been kind of exaggerated by Smallville, where Clark's buddy Peter is black, he has other not-white friends, and Lana Lang has this Eurasian*** thing going on.

And in a third 'why Smallville is a bit like Sunnydale' point, I've been thinking about something prompted by these comments from Wikipedia:

Technology in Buffyverse has been shown to be advanced enough to produce such an advanced robot as April

(in the I Was Made to Love You April the robot girlfriend episode from season 3)
In the Buffyverse there seems to be some extraordinarily advanced technology available to some. For example, robots are living among the ordinary citizens of the Buffyverse: in the Internet ("I, Robot... You, Jane"), produced by people decades ago ("Ted"), produced by youngsters today ("I Was Made to Love You"), and even used by dark powers ("Lineage").
(Buffyverse article in wikipedia).

That wikipedia article on the Buffyverse discusses the ways in which the world of Buffy is not like the 'real world' (and we could make all sorts of interesting segues into more talk about teenagers and the Teen World, but we won't), and technology seems one of those points. I've waxed lyrical (and slightly manically) on the issue of technology in Buffy before, so I won't go into it again, but it's worth mentioning that this matter was called to mind while watching Smallville for two real reasons:

1) Chloe (Clark's fiesty sidekick) is the technology person, what with all her digital cameras and computers (macs, no less) and things (despite Lex's best efforts) and

2) the ease with which the Sunnydale people accept robots (particularly the scoobies - and I do like the way the gang unanimously agree that April is a robot - why can they accept robots when they are usually so cynical and wise to the ridiculousness of life on the hellmouth?...look, I know it's a joke. But.) reminds me of the way the Smallville people seem cool with the whole 'meteorites destroyed my town' thing. That, and the 12 years of strange, meteorite-related events. In this 'verse, not only are Smallville and Metropolis real places, African American kids mixing happily with white kids with no hint of racial tension at the high school and teachers set on fire with no police investigations, but no one really seems to mind that kids turn into giant insects and girls shape change to rob banks.

Oh my, it's late (all of 11:08! My, how the world changes!), so I'm not sure I can write more. But if you have watched both these programs, do chime in.

Oh, and: everyone's had a doppleganger in Buffy - Buffy, Willow, Xander - who's anyone. What does that mean?

And, and: was I the only one who wondered what class Clark was reading Neitzche for in high school? And Lana with a great Russian work of lit? Hmmmm.

*soon to be the only-DVDs shop
** I'm talking Chloe, not the ever-irritating Lana Lang here.
***Well, maybe. But probably not.

[promise I'll fix the typos and add links later when I'm less tired and have more battery power on the lappy]

"Smallville v Sunnydale" was posted by dogpossum on July 26, 2006 11:18 PM in the category buffy and angel and smallville

July 17, 2006

it's ok - don't panic

To all those who've checked up on me after the sicky bubs post:



I'm ok.

Status report: as per usual, the second wave of serious head cold (which, incidentally, also struck down my father this week - in two rounds - no doubt an indication of the vulnerability of small-nostrilled people to this sort of thing) has settled in comfortably, and almost a week later, while I have now been out of the house all of 3 times, I now have the horrible ear thing again.

While it mightn't sound so terrible to have blocked ears, it's kind of awful for someone who relies on their ears as much as I do. It's difficult to dance when your balance is screwed and your awareness of your surroundings stuffed by unreliable hearing. It's bloody difficult to judge sound levels when you're DJing through an ear's worth of goob. And riding your bike is terrifying when you can't hear approaching cars or balance properly.
But I have a doctor's appointment booked for tomorrow, so either she'll look inside and be frightened enough by what she sees to syringe me to blessed unimpededness, or she'll see nothing and I'll have another day on the kick-you-on-your-arse decongestants. The latter is always a joy for someone as responsive to these sorts of drugs as I am. I am sure The Squeeze is looking forward to mildly-psychotic and scarily insomniac speed freak girl as much as I am.

On (un)related fronts, Angel and everyone else are dealing with the Darla/Drusilla fallout (don't you just LOVE those episodes?) and Buffy is freaking out under a pile of narratively excessive dramas: Glory's nabbed Dawn/the key, Spike is hot for Bot-love (and yes, he is kinda small, but pretty compact and well-muscled, Xander), Tara has been brain-drained by Glory and of course, Joyce has just passed away.

"it's ok - don't panic" was posted by dogpossum on July 17, 2006 1:48 PM in the category buffy and angel and domesticity and television

Grants to Grumble

No area was so associated with bullshit as cultural studies, where sociology and anthropology met literary criticism and produced prose that repelled the lay reader like a mouthful of Mace (Haigh The Nelson Touch: The New Censorship)
And while I find the thought of a mouthful of mace kind of interesting (I'm thinking of the Christmasy spice I use in Indian cooking and interesting baking), I can see Haigh's point.

This is a quote from an interesting article by Gideon Haigh in The Monthly - you can read it here. The article discusses the recent ARC funding fisticuffs, something I remember mostly as a fairly painful moment in academic funding where the then-Education minister Brendan Nelson apparently crossed a few applications off the funding list for having the words 'feminism', 'gay' or 'postmodern' in the title. Haigh's article The Nelson Touch The New Censorship adds a tad more detail to my memory and is well worth a read. One of the most interesting comments in the article is this one:

McCalman observes that the ripple effects are still to be reckoned with: “What this has done and will do for a long time to come will bring about self-censorship. You watch: young academics will sheer away from gender, because of the perception that it’s being monitored. The fact is that in this country we have no other form of research advancement apart from the government. And it gives them a power like no other country.”

A point which is certainly true in my case - I consciously chose not to position myself as a 'feminist researcher', despite the fact that my thesis is riddled with the words 'gender', 'sexuality', 'power', 'resistance' and so on. It simply seemed a sensible move to position myself within a different discourse. And perhaps to get all subterfuge-ey, exploiting the notion held by some male cultural studies academics, that if it's got woman in the title, it should be in women's studies rather than cultural studies.* It's actually far more exciting to think of myself as sneaking a little illicit Sisterhood into the mix.

I'm not really clued in enough to comment critically on the article, but if it quotes Gray-bags, it's worth a glance:

College of Experts member Professor Graeme Turner recalls:
At the end of 2004, there’d been a bit of an attitude from the other disciplines of: “Well, humanities people are wankers, Nelson was probably right.” But the second time, when the social sciences as well as the humanities were questioned, there were rumours that science would be scrutinised as well. Other people started saying: “What’s going on?” In fact, the position I took with people in science was to say: “What’s the position going to be in a few years on stem cell research? All you need’s a shift in the politics to be in the same position.”

*Is that bitterness you sense? Oh no. Not at all. Not one bit.

"Grants to Grumble" was posted by dogpossum on July 17, 2006 1:07 PM in the category academia

July 15, 2006

Ham takes Mt Wellington (2005)

Wearing two jumpers, thermals and still freezing, I look down the zig zag track on Mt Wellington. I'd LOVE to do that walk!

Yes, I do actually dress like my site pics. Truly.

"Ham takes Mt Wellington (2005)" was posted by dogpossum on July 15, 2006 9:08 PM in the category travel

July 13, 2006

THIS is cute

adopt your own virtual pet!

"THIS is cute" was posted by dogpossum on July 13, 2006 12:50 AM in the category clicky

July 12, 2006

poor sicky bub

I am terribly unwell. Well, not terribly, if I can still type.
But I have massively sore and swolen glands, a nasty sinus headache, a sore throat, lots of snot, some coughing, horrible aches and pains in my joints and a recurring temperature.

The cold that tried to ruin my weekend in Tasmania, the weekend before, which had quietened down, was obviously kicked into gear by my preemptive weekend of dancing the following weekend, and yesterday I started getting crook.

I woke up at about 4am with a massive temperature, all confused and distressed. I was freezing, but also burning up like the sun. I went to find some cold water to drink (of course it was a success - a confused, feverish person walking around a dark house looking for the fridge), then I decided that the only person who could help me out at that exact moment was The Squeeze. On my way to find him (cleverly hidden in bed), my sore right instep started hurting again (it's a recurring dance thing - like fallen arches, but actually a hamstring issue) and made me cry.

So the poor Squeeze had a snotty, feverish crying person startle him awake as they tried to climb into the bed without putting any weight on their sore foot.
Then there was some more crying, as he carefully placed me back into bed, and applied the tried and true Squeeze Method for calming distressed Hams and confused sick people - the clamp. This really means that he rolled me up in the blankets, wrapped an arm around me and exerted his full weight of Sleep. It took a bit of clamping, but eventually I calmed down a bit, stopped crying (what was with the weeping? Man, those feverish confusion thingies make for some weirdness), stopped having strange, confused half-hallucinations (which could only be solved by rolling about in bed, from side to back, to front to side and back again... eventually actually solved by some serious clamping) and fell asleep.
I feel a bit strange now, but those panadols took the edge off my temperature (that was another issue - I couldn't figure out how to get warm. Blankets and pajamas seemed too complex) and I'm not feeling quite as terrible as I did.

But I'm definitely not getting out of bed today. I'm going to lie here and read and wipe my nose all day.

"poor sicky bub" was posted by dogpossum on July 12, 2006 2:10 PM in the category domesticity

July 11, 2006

I am John Travolta

In our house The Squeeze is convinced that BB is not only foul, but also immoral. He leaves the room if it's on. I don't care much either way, in fact I'm watching it now. I'd prefer it if it was unedited, and just a bunch of people in a room with no 'tasks' - just like watching a bunch of sharehousers who're on the dole. No money, so they can't afford to go out. No imagination, so they don't go do free stuff. Eeeexcellent.

But I do have a problem with the new program 'Honey I'm killing the kids'. Ostensibly a program committed to 'helping' parents with overweight kids, rather than focussing on positive reinforcement for the parents and children, I suspect the tools are guilt, guilt and more guilt. Nice. I won't be watching that.

I've watched very little telly lately - beyond the eternal Buffy and Angel (seasons 4 and 2 respectively) - but I have my eye on tonight's OC. Nice.*

In other, more important news, I have a John Travolta obsession. I am convinced, when I'm dancing, that I am the man. It doesn't help that I think I'm funny when I strut it, Saturday Night Fever style. It's particularly unhelpful that lindy is built for strutting. Or, more importantly, blues dancing is built for strutting. A keen balboa fan was asking "you're into this blues stuff - what's the deal? I just don't get it," and of course, the only response is: "strut. You need to strut. Either take it incredibly seriously, or incredibly unseriously. But strut." It's true. Blues dancing is all about strutting.

*NB Willow now has an ibook. An oooold one.

"I am John Travolta" was posted by dogpossum on July 11, 2006 8:37 PM in the category buffy and angel and lindy hop and other dances and television

July 10, 2006

shave em dry

This weekend when I was out dancing at a late night party after a big competition night I heard a new version of a song called Shave 'em Dry 2, a song recorded by a woman called Lucille Bogan in 1935. I have a version of the song on a CD I recently purchased called Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts and Lollypops, which is quite poor quality. But not so poor as to make it impossible to make out these lyrics:
(NB: these are fairly explicit)

I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb,
I got somethin' between my legs'll make a dead man come,
Oh daddy, baby won't you shave 'em dry?
Aside: Now, draw it out!
Want you to grind me baby, grind me until I cry.
(Roland: Uh, huh.)
Say I fucked all night, and all the night before baby,
And I feel just like I wanna, fuck some more,
Oh great God daddy,
(Roland: Say you gonna get it. You need it.)
Grind me honey and shave me dry,
And when you hear me holler baby, want you to shave it dry.
I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb,
Daddy you say that's the kind of 'em you want, and you can make 'em come,
Oh, daddy shave me dry,
(Roland: She ain't gonna work for it.)
And I'll give you somethin' baby, swear it'll make you cry.
I'm gon' turn back my mattress, and let you oil my springs,
I want you to grind me daddy, 'til the bell do ring,
Oh daddy, want you to shave 'em dry,
Oh great God daddy, if you can't shave 'em baby won't you try?
Now if fuckin' was the thing, that would take me to heaven,
I'd be fuckin' in the studio, till the clock strike eleven,
Oh daddy, daddy shave 'em dry,
I would fuck you baby, honey I'd make you cry.
Now your nuts hang down like a damn bell sapper,
And your dick stands up like a steeple,
Your goddam ass-hole stands open like a church door,
And the crabs walks in like people.
Aside: Ow, shit!
(Roland: Aah, sure enough, shave 'em dry?)
Aside: Ooh! Baby, won't you shave 'em dry
A big sow gets fat from eatin' corn,
And a pig gets fat from suckin',
Reason you see this whore, fat like I am,
Great God, I got fat from fuckin'.
Aside: Eeeeh! Shave 'em dry
(Roland: Aah, shake it, don't break it)
My back is made of whalebone,
And my cock is made of brass,
And my fuckin' is made for workin' men's two dollars,
Great God, round to kiss my ass.
Aside: Oh! Whoo, daddy, shave 'em dry

As you can see, there are no punches pulled here. Any lindy hopper who pays attention knows that a fairly large proportion of jazz from the 20s and 30s in particular is decidedly saucy. Yet most of the sauce is veiled in innuendo or so reworked by the delivery it's largely unrecognisable. As an example, the song 'Hold Tight' begins "I want some seafood, mamma..." later continues with the lyric "when I come home from work at night, I get my favourite dish - fish!" and has the chorus "hold tight, hold tight...I want some seafood mamma!" When Fats Waller sings the song, you're well aware that this is not a song about culinary preferences. When the Andrews Sisters sang it, though, the song became a little more ambiguous.
I'm a fan of this sort of blues and jazz, more for the playfulness and irreverence than any naughty pleasure. I like the way sexuality and sensuality are satired, and we're encouraged to laugh along. When it comes to blues dancing, which is frequently explicitly sensual, I like the edge a little humour lends to the dance, resolving the sexaul tension with humour.

Yet when I heard the new version of Bogan's song was played at the party the other night, my response was a little different. To begin with, it's worth pointing out the recording is live (or apparently so), to an enthusiastic audience who cheer along. The singer is a woman, and the lyrics are very clear. I've heard this song played a few times before, first by a woman DJ, and always in Melbourne. The crowd's response was initially surprise and a little shock. By the time it was played at this late night party, however, many dancers were familiar with the song, and both the uninitiated and familiar ears responded with enthusiastic cheering and laughing. It's also worth pointing out that late night parties are frequently more casual, more relaxed and social than more formal dances or competition events.

Despite the enthusiastic response for the song this weekend, I was left wondering if it was entirely appropriate to play the song at that moment. I think I would have left it a little later, when the room had thinned a little, and only the hardcore dancers were left. I saw a few people clearly offended by the lyrics. Particularly since the partner dancing encourages dancers to share their interpretation of the song in that moment, on the dance floor.
My own response, however, was to giggle and take more than a little delight in the obvious pleasure the vocalist takes in the lyric, melody and shouted chorus.

I haven't the time here, but I would like to write a little about the way contemporary swing dancers use archival music and dance for self expression in social contexts. And to perhaps comment on the way race and ethnicity are played out in these settings.
So perhaps this post is really just to pose the question: how are swing dancers using seventy or eighty year old dances and songs for self expression, social commentary and communal creative work? And why

"shave em dry" was posted by dogpossum on July 10, 2006 5:05 PM in the category music

bizarre children's books over at daddyzine

Such indeed is the premise of a well-known episode in Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day, originally published in 1968. Another book from Scarry relies of course on the conceit that a family of pigs would drive a Volkswagon to the beach. Which makes no sense, given the very real likelihood on such a trip of encountering sociopathic dingos on the fast track to suspended driver's licenses. Perhaps it would be better to stay home, my porcine friends! But then of course there's the old saying that there are only two types of stories -- a family of swine leaves home or a strange swine comes to town -- and while the small-scale domestic travails of the Pig family may have suited a fancy-pants domestic novelist, such swine would have granted Mr. Scarry but little scope for his considerable talents.


such tales are of course by no means anomalous, our shelves being as they are overpopulated by a mob of talking, dancing, singing, or otherwise incongruously-occupied folk from up and down the phylogenetic ladder


"bizarre children's books over at daddyzine" was posted by dogpossum on July 10, 2006 1:56 PM in the category clicky

July 5, 2006

BB again. wherein i justify spending half an hour writing this post rather than rewriting chapters

While I'm almost ready to drop this particular bundle (dang I'm carrying some thesis-anxiety), the BB discussion continues.

There's another article by Mark up at Lavartus Prodeo (where I'm quoted a bit, as are a few other interesting items by people like Galaxy (also here) and Ms Fits and others).

One of the heaviest heavy weights, Ms Greer, has chimed in, which must have the BB people "hugging themselves with glee" (to quote this article), PR-wise. This is an article which addresses the sorts of issues I'm most interested in, yet when Greer writes:

When Camilla heard that Ashley and John had been evicted, her response was baffling. "I'm really sorry, guys," she wept. "I feel so bad."
I'm surprised. Surely she can understand why this woman felt this way at that moment? I mean, it's nothing new to see a woman ladened with guilt for the actions of male sexual misbehaviour... If only we could all be as robust as Germaine, strong enough not to carry that guilt*.
Perhaps more interestingly, surely its not so baffling that Camilla's having a bit of a cry, when it's been made so clear that she (of the three) was not expelled from the house? I imagine I'd be up there in the crying stakes in such a strange, pressure-cooker situation even without mysterious suprise 'evictions', public humiliation and implied guilt-by-exemption.

And as this story continues, part of me wonders why it's so simple for BB to evict difficult housemates, when it always took us weeks and weeks to get rid of difficult housemates when I was share-housing? If we could simply have whisked them away, perhaps I'd still have my copy of The Mists of Avalon.** an aside, I wonder if it's worth thinking about the context of this 'sexual harassment' (I use quotes because the status of the incident is still in doubt in some minds... not mine, though). These things happened 'in the home'. Yet this is a very public private space. Am I pushing too far when I wonder if this issue, the entire BB program, offers a fascinating opportunity to think about the perormance of public and private space, the sexual relationships between young people in public/private space?
Of course, we can't really say that BB offers an 'authentic' view of private domestic life, but it does offer us an opportunity to think about the way particular types of men and women live and behave together under trying circumstances. And while the issue of sex seems foremost on everyone's minds (anyone who objects to mixed-sex showering should avoid Herrang... hell, any dance camp), the gastropod in me is always wondering what exactly they're cooking for dinner, and who will do the washing up.

Though not to forget Ms Greer's points:

Every picture tells a story, but no picture tells the whole story. No word is more abused by Big Brother producers than "live", unless it is "uncut". Perhaps universities should start running courses on how to watch Big Brother, teaching students to discern how, when and where the mix is being manipulated, and what insultingly tatty television it is, in terms of production values.

Setting aside the whole issue of 'taste' (something Galaxy and others could no doubt discuss more cleverly than I), is anyone else kind of digging the fact that all of this online bloggage (rather than 'news') on the topic is conducted by people who are engaged in teaching the 'BB demograph' (ie young men and women) about media and cultural studies and gender and so on, as made particularly clear on Moment to Moment?
Speaking as someone who's had to explain why feminism is important in a media studies subject, to a group of young(er than me) people who are training to become media producers, I think that the comments and ideas we're sharing online are kind of important. After all, these bloggers are the sorts of people who are on the 'front line' of these university courses Greer suggests. And many of us will go on to do the sorts of jobs that Lumby is doing.

Really, if anyone's in a position to ask the sorts of endlessly nitpicky questions, or to spend hours thinking about and talking about this issue, aren't we postgraduate/early-career academic types the one(s)?

Even if we really should be off editing chapters.

Speaking of guilt...

*This is kind of a joke. If were speaking about this, in person, you'd have been cued in by tone of voice.

**Was that too frivolous a joke? I mean, we are kind of talking about feminist readings of history, ideologically informed narrative and all...

"BB again. wherein i justify spending half an hour writing this post rather than rewriting chapters" was posted by dogpossum on July 5, 2006 12:07 PM in the category television

strange kitty

the nieces were collecting variations on this strange cat animal. a magnet-battery arrangement made the kitty's tongue 'lick' at the magnetic bottle when you held it close.


"strange kitty" was posted by dogpossum on July 5, 2006 11:56 AM in the category digging

more BB talk

Since my first post there have been some responses to the BB thing on other blogs:

Moment to Moment

Pavlov's Cat (and here)

A Wild Young Underwhimsy

Reasons you will hate me


I'm not the only one who read this episode as a bit of sexual harassment designed not so much as an 'authentic' sexual advance towards Camilla by two men, but rather as an act designed more to engage in a little man-man posturing through humiliating a woman (AWYUW and MtM echo that point).

And some more online commentary rolls in:
Mark @ Larvatus Prodeo

tubagooba (and here) who, interestingly, writes

I haven’t been exposed to these attitudes much in my day-to-day life, which might say more about my day-to-day life than it does about either BB or Australian society in general
I don't know tubagooba, but I was surprised to read this: have I overgeneralised my own experiences?.

Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony

armagnac'd (who makes some unsettling comments about breast-enhancement surgery and feminism which I'm not sure are all that helpful, considering...)

what the cat dragged in

There's a comment by Lumby on crikey, but I can't be arsed with that (I think you have to pay..?)

Over at The Road to Surfdom there are panopticon references.

Hoyden about town contributes.

Andrew Bartlett comments on the Bartlett diaries... though I haven't yet had a chance to read it.

There's some pretty serious artillery up there, so I'm not going to step up and get involved.

Having waded through all that, though, (esp the scuffling on LP), you may want to rest your eyes over here, or perhaps just start with this little sproinger:

"more BB talk" was posted by dogpossum on July 5, 2006 11:08 AM in the category clicky and television

July 4, 2006

go O.C. go

Ok, so watching the OC, the brown-haired boy with all the 'witty one-liners and pop culture quips' and the dumb ex-barbie girlfriend is hanging out with a blonde girl in the city where Brown Uni is.

They totally have to be a couple - they have matching novelty voices.

"go O.C. go" was posted by dogpossum on July 4, 2006 10:20 PM in the category television


in Tasmania.
Kara, observing The Squeeze at the snack table at the Fly me to the Moon Ball, noted that he was just a little hamsterlike.

"recently," was posted by dogpossum on July 4, 2006 10:15 PM in the category coooteeewooteee

well, if they were both brisvegans it'd be fer-sher

I wonder if Elsewhere and B know each other? What with both being people from Alice Springs?

"well, if they were both brisvegans it'd be fer-sher" was posted by dogpossum on July 4, 2006 7:33 PM in the category clicky

abstract frenzy

I'm feeling a bit confused. A couple of months ago I went over the list of upcoming conferences and did a heap of abstracts, including one for this year's CSAA conference. Here's the call for papers:

f things are 'un-Australian' it must be because they come from UNAUSTRALIA.
Where is it?
Who lives there?
How does it come to be?
What is its past and what is its future?

While raising some very local questions of critique and desire, the theme is open to international perspectives and interpretations.
Do other places have their own unplaces? What goes on there?

UNTHEMED papers are also welcome.

I got all confused before I figured out what conference/what abstract/wuh? was going on.
I'm not too inspired by the conference theme, even though I do do a fair bit of work on global/local stuff, but almost two months ago to the day I pulled out this action:

Swing Talk and Swing Dance: online and embodied networks in the ‘Australian’ swing dance community.

Since its revival in the 1980s, lindy hop and other swing dances have become increasingly popular with middle class youth throughout the developed world.
There are vibrant local swing dance communities in Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, Perth, Canberra and Brisbane for whom dancing - an embodied cultural practice – is the most important form of social interaction. Swing dancers will travel vast distances and spend large amounts of money solely to attend dance events in other cities. The success and appeal of these events lies in their promotion as unique and showcasing their local dance ‘scene’.

In travel itineraries which criss-cross the country, swing dancers develop networks between local communities that are not only cemented by their embodied interpersonal interaction, but also by their uses of digital media. In this paper, I examine the ways in which the online Swing Talk discussion board is utilised by Australian swing dancers to develop personal relationships with dancers in other cities, which in turn serve to develop relationships between local communities. This insistence of local community identity in swing dance culture in Australia defies a definition of a ‘national’ swing dance community. I describe the ways in which ‘Australian’ swing dance is an ‘unAustralia’ - not a homogenous ‘whole’ but a network of embodied and mediated relationships between diverse local communities and individuals.

It's interesting to see a few other abstracts - here, here and here.

I'll only go if I score their grant thingy for pgrads/early career types. I can't afford to get there (air fares) or to pay to get in ($190). I doubt my paper is clever enough or sexy enough to score me some free money. But them's the breaks. Nor am I sure it's an especially great time for me to attend a conference - once again it's on the weekend after MLX, which will keep me more than a little busy.
Not to mention the whole writing a paper thing. I'm kind of a bit tired of writing...

"abstract frenzy" was posted by dogpossum on July 4, 2006 6:41 PM in the category conferences

more academic blogging...

In a strange turn of events, my hero now has a blog called Confesions of an Aca/fan.

"more academic blogging..." was posted by dogpossum on July 4, 2006 6:33 PM in the category digging

Cars and Over The Hedge

I've recently seen Over the Hedge and Cars (did I mention my nieces are 11 and 7?). So I have things to report. But not right now. I'm a bit tired.

But you might want to go have a look here to read the Over the Hedge comic (from which the film was developed).

Super Size Me convinced me never to eat McDeath or other scary junk food ever again. OTH did a similar job. While it was a refreshingly child-centred film, the Message was decidedly anti-junk food and anti-television/sloth... not to mention anti-suburban development. It's not a pixar-type multimodal/polyvocal text. OTH is a children's film. But it was ideologically heavy in a very hippy-friendly way (well, perhaps without the 'violence').

Cars, on the other hand, was uncomfortable viewing for me. Very 'go-cars!', 'drive one - now!', 'use fossil fuels - today!'. It didn't sit well with me, and is my least favourite pixar effort to date. It looked great (but they all do, right?), but I just had this odd discomfort with the whole car/petrol/nostalgia thing. I'm not sure I want to revisit the 50s, where people drove just for the pleasure of driving (rather than getting places). Though I do dig neon.
It might have been my cold talking, but I also found it really really loud.

"Cars and Over The Hedge" was posted by dogpossum on July 4, 2006 1:59 PM in the category digging and fillums

Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts & Lollypops (various)

Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts & Lollypops

I could perhaps be over the saucy comedic lyric. But not just yet.

"Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts & Lollypops (various)" was posted by dogpossum on July 4, 2006 1:57 PM in the category digging and djing and music

Don't You Feel My Leg: Apollo's Lady Blues Singers (various)

Don't You Feel My Leg: Apollo's Lady Blues Singers.

"Don't You Feel My Leg: Apollo's Lady Blues Singers (various)" was posted by dogpossum on July 4, 2006 1:54 PM in the category digging and djing and music

fate consipres against me. again.

So you guys all know that I'm in the middle of some serious last-round thesis editing, right?
The supes is back in about two weeks, I have a conclusion to (re)write, an introduction to (re)write, etc etc?

Well, this weekend past, we decided to pop down to Tasmania to see my ps and coincide with a visit from my nieces to my parents. That was all cool. Except for the bit where I do as normal and get sick. We did no walking, I sat on the sidelines like a nanna at a dance in Tasmania, I piked on a bunch of social engagements, and the only parts of the beautiful Hobart I saw after Saturday was through the parent's lounge room windows (which is actually quite a lot, really).

RIght now I'm trying desperately to understand the written word (and to produce it too), and it's not really working. I've been full of goob since Friday, though at least I've not napped all day today (as I did yesterday and the day before - hell, I even fell asleep during Angel the day before).
I thought I might do some work.

But I'm finding it really difficult to hold thoughts together. Reading is easy - it's the comprehension that's getting me. And I don't think it's such a great idea to try to edit/rewrite in this state.
Yeah, so that sucks, seeing as how I have the rest of this week (today, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) plus next week to do these little jobs, but we have this big dance thing on this weekend, which I think I'll actually skip. I'm not particularly interested in the Evil Empire's third (or is it fourth?) 'national competition' weekend. Particularly not when they can't seem to run even one social dancing weekend. But we will have a lovely houseguest, which will be nice, possibly two. Then my parents will be down next week.
So yeah, thesis work?
Why is it that on the one fortnight when I really want to work my guts out, before the semester begins and teaching with it, when I really want to get this motherfucking* thesis out of the way, fate consipres against me?

Should I panic? Perhaps. But I can't really manage to work up the energy. Plus it's hard to breathe, and it's not worth panicking if you're not going to wail while you're gnashing your teeth. Well, I could manage some wheezing (what with the lovely congested chest/sinus thing**) and a bit of moaning...

Yeah, so, ok, I think I'm going back to bed. Pick up some veggies and milk for our empty fridge on your way home, will you?

*sorry about that cuss.
**packed sinuses and blocked ears on a plane: interesting. Not as painful as I'd thought. But to feel the pressure inside my head shifting and popping and oozing was kind of unsettling.

"fate consipres against me. again." was posted by dogpossum on July 4, 2006 1:40 PM in the category domesticity and thesis and travel

July 3, 2006

big brother 'scandal': preliminary thoughts

We've just seen a short statement by the Big Brother people on channel 10 re the 'events of the weekend'. Apparently, one man held a woman down while another rubbed his groin in her face. While the woman didn't want to press charges, the two men were removed from the house because their actions breached the program's rules.
The opinion in online news is that this was a case of sexual harassment.

Here's what the Big Brother site had to say:

For legal reasons we were not able to provide you with coverage of the events following John and Ash's removal from the House on the weekend as they happened. For the sake of clarity here is a summary of the events that followed their departure.
On Saturday night, John and Ashley were removed from the House following an incident that breached one of Big Brother's most fundamental rules. John and Ashley left via the Diary Room unbeknownst to the other HMs who thought they had been called to the Diary Room for a standard visit.

While the surprise performance by the Rogue Traders in the garden initially distracted the HMs from the whereabouts of Ashley and John, eventually some time later they started wondering what had happened to the boys. The HMs were then called to the Diary Room where BB told them: "Last night's incident was very serious. Camilla did not request nor want any action taken by Big Brother, however Big Brother had no option but to act and remove the two Housemates."

The HMs were shocked at the news and several of them reacted tearfully. Camilla, who was involved in the incident, sobbed: "I feel so bad, I'm sorry." But both BB and the HMs assured her that she had nothing to be sorry about.

Following BB's announcement, discussion of the incident wasn't broadcast on the live web streams or covered in the BB Diary for legal reasons. However, Camilla did speak to her HMs about the events of the previous night.

"It wasn't the right thing to do and even though Ash meant it as a joke, it wasn't good behaviour," she told the group. But she added that she has no hard feelings towards the boys whatsoever. "There was no malice intended, they were doing it in a playful way and when I said very specifically to John: 'Don't. No,' he didn't do it."

On Sunday Camilla was interviewed by the Queensland Police and she told them she didn't wish to take the issue any further. It is no longer a police matter.

Despite the upsets of the last 48 hours, the HMs are moving on from the incident and vowing to continue enjoying their time in the House.

It's interesting stuff because the two men, interviewed by Gretel a few minutes ago, obviously felt that they'd simply been involved in a joke that went too far. One of them said "we read [Camilla] wrong". Camilla has been filmed saying that she felt that it was just a joke.

I missed all the media coverage over the weekend, what with my lying on the couch at the parent's place in Tasmania, asleep. But there've been a few different comments, from an ALP member suggesting that the BB producers should donate their earnings from the weekend's coverage to charity, to the PM calling for the axing of the show .

I don't know much about the incident, but from what I've seen...
As someone who grew up in a society where that sort of behaviour was not only common but expected of young men, on the one hand I'm delighted to see the BB program calling attention to this sort of behaviour, suggesting that it's simply not appropriate and will not be tolerated. And more importantly, doing this on a massively popular television program... On the other hand, I'm interested in how each of the three people may really have just considered it a joke that might have been in poor taste - they're an example of how this sort of behaviour is so normalised in Australian culture.

It's interesting stuff. Personally, I don't think it's appropriate. And I think it's interesting the way this program, set up as 'just filming ordinary people doing ordinary things' has filmed this sort of behaviour and taken a clear stance on it as sexual harassment. On the other hand, I have a feeling that our Fearless Leader has read the behaviour as an example of how BB is 'peddling pornographic/immature/stupid smut or silliness'. Simply 'boys will be boys'.
I really want to hear some feminist comments on this - I'd like to think it's an important opportunity for a public discussion on how patriarchy is complicated - how sexism or chauvinism or perhaps 'gender' is so deeply entrenched in our culture that we - men and women - do feel ok about dismissing it as a joke.

As a woman who grew up in city, in a suburb, attending a school where far worse behaviour was an everyday part of life, I can imagine how the experience could have been regarded as nothing extraordinary. As a joke. I can also see how this might have constituted a bit of homosocial 'slumber party' titilation - a bit of play between the boys at the woman's expense (where she became a vehicle for the men's 'flirting' with each other).

But perhaps, more worryingly, I can imagine how she might have felt: Trying to play it cool, to behave in a way which the 'viewers' would value, so as to secure her place on the program/in the house. Trying to pay it cool so as to maintain her status with her fellow housemates. Perhaps trying to play it cool as a woman who has been very doubtful of her own sex-appeal, in the company of two conventionally attractive and popular men.

But a the same time, her own, less intellectual response might have been anything from a little erotic tension to that kind of deep-stomach panic, where you're held down and can't get away, by two men who are obviously interested in a little power-play, sexual play, and you simply can't get free physically, or muster the words to persuade them to let you go.

I mean, what was she to do? What is she to do? Would she be voted off the show if she did take the matter further?

I really want to see what happens from here. I'm excited to think that the program has so clearly made the point that this is NOT appropriate behaviour. A point that is perhaps even more relevant to an audience which is dominated by young women.
And now I want to see how the response is handled. Will there be clearer discussions of sexual harassment in the media generally? On the program?

BB in itself encourages this sort of sexually charged behaviour, to attract viewers and sell advertising dollars. How will it now manage this aspect of its program?

And perhaps, even more interesting, why is it that I have such a problem with this aspect of sexual 'play', yet I haven't previously found the more risque Late Night BB difficult? I think that it is because of the element of violence or coersion, the way this event emphasises the issues of power at work in sexual relationships, or more importantly, in sexualised 'play' or other social interaction.
The thought of a woman coerced in this setting upets me. Angers me.

But at the same time, I'm also worried by the way these men might have only been able to engage in homosocial/homosexual play via the coersion of a woman. That they could only secure their masculinity (their masculine/phallic power) in homosexual play by supplying a woman as the object/passive/victim/disempowered vehicle.

And of course, when you add the issue of voyeurism and exhibitionism at work in BB...
The issue of performances of masculinity and feminity is immediately more complex.

I am interested in other people's comments. And I'll have a bit more of a think and perhaps post again when I've managed to put together a more coherent, thought-out response.

Can I just add: that this woman is asked to comment on the issue, really, really makes me uncomfortable. Like I said, I'd like to read some feminist comment on this issue.

And what makes me REALLY FUCKING ANGRY is that The Age has posted pictures of the incident online (you'll have to go look - I'm not hotlinking to that). Can they not understand how that might perhaps be even worse than the original event?

You might also be interested in reading Galaxy's post on Sarsaparilla.

"big brother 'scandal': preliminary thoughts" was posted by dogpossum on July 3, 2006 10:59 PM in the category television

July 1, 2006

i ain't no retro-chic stooge

Telling Dave the story of my ride into town earlier that evening:

"So I was burning down Sydney Rd, and I overtook some stooge on a BMX who wasn't wearing a helmet."
"Yeah - I totally scorched him. Then a few metres later I'm slowing down past Royal Park to take off my jumper and he burns past me, spinning his tits off on his little one-speeder. Suddenly, 'BAM!' he busts a crank or something! And he has to pull over because his bike is busted"
"Yeah - that'll teach him to take me on with a little retro-chic on/off BMX."
"Sure - so you're telling me you pushed him to the point of destruction?"
"That's what I'm saying."

"i ain't no retro-chic stooge" was posted by dogpossum on July 1, 2006 2:01 PM in the category bikes