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December 31, 2006

quick idea

There are a number of bands who've played for and produced albums for swing dancers. These albums tend to be a greatest hits of what's cool with dancers at that particular moment.
Right now I'm listening to Sol's Swingmatism, which has the following track listing:
1. For Dancers Only
2. Johnny Come Lately
3. “Big Apple Contest”
4. Black and Tan Fantasy
5. Shiny Stockings
6. Indiana
7. Good Bait
8. Swingmatism
9. Cherokee
10. Moonglow
11. Cherry Point
12. Alfie’s Theme
13. Stolen Moments
14. There Will Never Be Another You
15. Funky Blues

There are a number of others, including the Campus Five albums, the Peter Davis albums, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and a few others.
The best bit of all, is that all these bands are, essentially 'cover bands' - tribute bands in many cases. And all these albums are made up of songs penned anywhere between the 1900s and the 1950s. And all of these songs have reached dancers today (and over the last twenty years) through DJs and live bands. No help from mainstream telly or radio. No video clips. No guest programmers on rage. Some help from bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in the early 90s, but nothing significant since the flash-in-the-pan moment of neo swing. There's been the odd jump start from people like Robbie Williams and Jamie McCullam - but we can count these guys on one hand.
While the States has had big name artists like Barbara Morrison and Junior Mance (both of whom have been promoted by swing dancers to swing dancers in a way that simply hasn't happened in Australia), but Australia hasn't seen their bands take on that sort of popularity.

I need to write something about this, but I don't have the brain right now (lamb shanks cooking in the oven, too tired, new fabric on the table begging me to start sewing, DVD to watch, horrible allergies itches driving me NUTS and making it IMPOSSIBLE to concentrate).

"quick idea" was posted by dogpossum on December 31, 2006 7:30 PM in the category music

by the by

Anyone have any good cake recipes that use oil rather than butter? I'm always after a good lacto-less cake recipe.
Actually, anyone got an unusual (yet rocking) cake recipe that they'd like to share? Please.

"by the by" was posted by dogpossum on December 31, 2006 7:23 PM in the category fewd

December 30, 2006

big apple, tranky doo, cultural transmission in dance and nerdy jazz fans

Look out: this post is a bit crapworthy. I think I've found my idea for the article, but it needs some work. But I just had to wack this down now while it's on my mind (and just before I ping ding to the Laundry to see a band and do some dancing). My current mission is to learn the tranky doo routine. I am crap at learning routines. Yesterday I spent an hour and half trying to learn this version of the tranky doo (because I love Manu), and only figured out three phrases. That's some sad arse transcription/learning on my part. These stoods (in that clip) would probably have learnt that routine in an hour or hour and a half.

Doing a little youtube browsing today (as one does when one is waiting for one's Squeeze to get up), I discovered the following neat clip:

That's the Silver Shadows (whose members include Todd & Naomi, Skye & Frida, Andy & Nina, Peter & Caitlin - all young, 'famous' dancers of the type generally referred to as rock stars) there, performing a routine at the midwest lindy fest. Now, that's some seriously excellent lindy hopping there (and you can see more of the Silver Shadows if you do a search for them on youtube - their 2005 ULHS performance was amazing), but even more interestingly, that's some seriously excellent use of music there.

Have a look at the following clip, but more importantly, have a listen to this clip.

You'll notice (well, you might), that the riff that pops up at about 1.29mins is repeated in the track on that first Silver Shadows clip (at about 1.44 - when the crowd goes utterly nuts). I'm not really sure, but that sounds like an edited combination of songs on the Silver Shadows clip (I could be wrong though). Even if it's not an edited collection of songs and is one single song referencing all those other important songs, this is still important stuff.
Historically, various riffs would pop up in a range of popular jazz songs across bands and often across moments in time during theh 20s, 30s and 40s - the 'swing era' (as that's my era of interest). Individual musicians would play a particular solo, or a particular bit of melody/arrangement would be reproduced in another song, elsewhere.
This is very textual poaching stuff - jazz was all about the 'cut and paste' or 'sampling' deal.

The thing that makes this Silver Shadows routine so fascinating (and so wonderful) is the way they've combined various bits of iconic dance routines, to a song (or song-melange) which combines iconic combinations of notes and arrangements.
If you're not familiar with the songs, or with the choreography of these iconic routines (and if you do a search of 'whitey's lindy hoppers' and 'harlem congaroos' you'll find the original sections of film on youtube), you won't recognise this stuff in the Silver Shadows' choreography.
That they began with the song Savoy (by Lucky Millinder I think), which is named for the famous Savoy Ballroom where the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers were based (and which is credited as the birthplace of lindy hop), and this is a fairly nice indication of where they go with the routine and their particular style of lindy hop. These are pretty solid recreationist doods, digging 'authentic' music and lindy.

So when you watch that clip, you see the dancers pull out a bit of the Big Apple routine from the film Keep Punchin'. And to make this moment of intertextuality/cultural transmission/textual poaching even more wonderful, that routine in the original film (as choreographed by Frankie Manning for a combination of Whitey's Lindy Hopper dancers) also includes parts of the Tranky Doo.

And here's Al Minns and Leon James (more Savoy dancers) doing the Tranky Doo (note the references to Marshall Stearns, who wrote the important book on African American jazz dance Jazz Dance):

And because it's difficult to see Al and Leon properly in that footage, check out Mike and Nina (Nina is in the Silver Shadows) doing a demonstration of the Tranky Doo steps here:

The Tranky Doo is another piece of choreography from this early era of lindy hop, one that's become a bit popular with young swing dancers today.

And to round all of this off, the Big Apple is a dance with its roots in Africa. Here's a big chunk of my thesis about Big Apples:

John F. Szwed and Morton Marks (32) discuss the importance of called dances in African American musical history, noting the relationship between dance and musical form. Dancers were challenged by callers to perform the called steps to the best of their ability in the earliest moments of black appropriations of European folk dances. Credible performances required dancers not only be familiar with named steps, but also be able to perform them immediately, and often with variations on the step that still maintained a recognised structure. This discussion echoes a tradition from earliest African dance. Hazard-Gordon notes that “the challenge posed by the fiddler-caller, familiar to West Africans, calls upon the dancer to perform difficult combinations of steps. The best performers are those who can meet the challenge while maintaining control and coolness” (Jookin’ 21).
Malone and others draw clear connections between the ring dances of Africa, the ring Shouts of African American gospel churches and with ring dances of the 20s and 30s such as the Big Apple. The Ring Shout was a slaves’ reworking of ancient African ritual, remade to accord with European religious expectations. Performed in a ring, most often in churches or religious services, Ring Shouts placed an emphasis on innovative interpretations of set moves (Stearns and Stearns 27). The Big Apple, popular in the 1920s and 30s and choreographed by New York dancer Frankie Manning, reworked the Ring Shout with new, formal choreography and was performed in a circle by partnered and solo dancers. A range of other ‘Apples’ were popular throughout the period, and are today in contemporary swing culture, joined by new pieces such as the Japanese swing dancers’ ‘Fuji Apple’ and unchoreographed version.
In their simplest forms, ‘Apples’ are ‘called’, requiring dancers to perform steps chosen and demonstrated by a leader, a role that is shared by all in the circle. The more complex and famous Apples were more strictly choreographed – as with the Big Apple – but individuals’ executions of these set steps were always marked by individual style and variation often with a competitive edge. Despite the constraints of called dances, Big Apples in swing dance maintained a strong sense of improvisation and a valuing of innovation. The proving of a dancer’s skill lay not only in their recognising the step called, but in their interpretation and performance of that step. Footage of Frankie Manning’s dance troupe the Hot Chocolates performing his Big Apple (Keep Punchin’ 1939), is still consulted by dancers today, and aptly demonstrates the importance of individual creative styling of choreographed steps in this historical moment.

I think the reason that I get all excited about these sorts of things, is that these connections between archival film, historical African American vernacular dance, jazz music forms and practice and so on are fascilitated by the internet (my use of youtube just there was pretty important), yet are also dependent on access to archival film footage, the instruction of surviving dancers from the 1930s, individual dancers getting together now to work on this stuff (and the Silvers Shadows' dancers are from all over the US and include Frida from Sweden), and then (perhaps most importantly), dancers in the audience (whether there on the night or later online) recognisingall this cross-referencing and clever textual poaching.
This is community media use and practice in action. And, I think, one of the most exciting parts of using dancers as a case study: here are some doods using digitial media in really complex and sophisticated ways, yet with this technology always subsidiary to the embodied dance act. The communal embodied dance act.

Useful references:
Peter and the crew discuss the big apple on

"big apple, tranky doo, cultural transmission in dance and nerdy jazz fans" was posted by dogpossum on December 30, 2006 3:26 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

December 28, 2006

not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Originally uploaded by carlosluis.
I'm always the last to latch onto cool things - you can guarantee something's no longer cool if I've suddenly discovered it.

I don't know if anyone else is as interested in flickr as I am (well, except for Jean of course), but if you're a flickr person (and I've noticed that a great deal of the people who's blogs I read are), then you might be interested in the flickr blog. My timing is perfect, of course - flickr went down, just as I discover all sorts of interesting groups and photos and things to look at. This photo is one of them.
There's another neat one here.

"not the sharpest knife in the drawer" was posted by dogpossum on December 28, 2006 6:15 PM in the category clicky

very un-cultural studies of me

I've been writing a bit about women and blues music and dance lately, my ideas fed in part by my research for the thesis, but also (and perhaps more importantly), stimulated by my own experiences as a woman in the swing dance community.
I've been asked to do a guest spot on a fairly spec online culture blog, writing specifically about my own research. I've had a bit of a think about it, not much, I must admit, as I've been a bit distracted, and really, I just can't seem to put anything together in my head. I mean, I have no idea what I'd like to write about. I've kind of got stage fright. This is the first mass-public airing of my work where I'm likely to get/see immediate feedback (in the form of comments), and unlike academic journals or conference papers, I feel there's a bit of pressure to write well and accessibly. I do think that the format is quite different - shorter, lots of linkage, etc etc.
And while I just know that this is a fabulous opportunity, I can't seem to put my ideas together.

I'd quite like to do something like this hot and cool entry (with some tidying and a more coherent structure and, well point), but I'm not sure how to start.
I actually got to the hot/cool entry by way of this entry on women, blues and dance, which developed from this (fairly ordinary) entry on the same topic. And of course, that was a response to Kate's responses to a CD I sent her with a copy of a blues set I did a few weeks ago.

Of course, for me the most interesting part of this whole chain of thinking is the fact that we began with a set list posted on the internet, which is something I have started doing recently as a replacement for the fairly fizzly thread on the Swing Talk board where we did list our set lists ages ago, but which has recently fallen out of favour.

I found that thread particularly useful as a beginner DJ - I could see what sorts of songs different DJs in Australia are playing, the ways they're combining them, and then (perhaps even more interesting) I could read their own comments on the sets and how they went. I read that thread in conjunction with this DJ bubs thread (which gets interesting on the second page) and the Swing DJs board, where I'm too scared to post. And of course, I also spent a great deal of time clicking between (or and allmusic (a site which used to be better) for sound clips and musicans' bios respectively. Radio programs like Hey Mr Jesse, which are only delivered online as podcasts have recently become really important to me (I don't think it's a coincidence, as Jesse has been producing this show since January 2006 and I started DJing in February of this year).

Talking about DJing in person, with real, live DJs has played a suprisingly small part in my learning to DJ. I think this is in part because I prefer to dance when I'm not DJing, dance venues generally aren't too good for talking about DJ, and I'm not really interested in getting together to talk DJing - I'd rather talk about other crap. I do discuss levels and technology when I'm DJing or when someone else is DJing - I ask knowledgeable friends questions like "why does that sound like shit?" and then do a little hypothetical problem solving.

These were the sorts of resources that I was using to help me learn how to DJ. I was full of ideas about DJing (in part prompted by my thesis work and chapter on DJing, but not entirely - I found that most of my theoretical ideas about DJing were actually bullshit and needed to be revised post-practical experience), and feeling creative and inspired. The fact that DJing is nine tenths compulsive CD collecting and song cataloguing no doubt helped me along (I can stop whenever I want. I don't have a problem. I don't need to organise things. No way).

Posting set lists (and posting my discussions of them), getting feedback from more experienced DJs, and learning about DJing from reading their posts, in combination with all those other sources helped me get a handle on DJing. I must add, without the practical experience of DJing, none of these things would have been any good to me at all. And of course, most of my ideas about DJing and how to DJ are in turn fostered by my own dance experience - both in Melbourne over the years and overseas - and and by listening and dancing to other DJs' sets.
I think it's also important to note that all this online toing and froing is a really interesting aspect of swing DJs' activities generally - I wrote about this in the chapter on DJing. Because we live so far apart (particularly in Australia), the internet has developed as a fabulous tool for networking between DJs, for the development of skills (and increasingly for me), networking with event organisers for scoring gigs. Travel has also been important, as it gives me a chance to touch base with DJs from out of town.

And, of course, I have to make note of the fact that I know only one female DJ from out of state who has a decent amount of experience and comes out dancing regularly or posts on Swing Talk. Here in Melbourne, there are far more female DJs than in other scenes, in part (I think) as a result of the recent 'opening up' of DJing at major venues like CBD (which has so many sets to fill each month and has been organised by people who have been clearly interested in expanding the DJing base in Melbourne), and (to a degree), the importance of buddying between new DJs. Glancing over the DJing roster for CBD in January, I can see that six out of the eight DJs rostered on are female. I also note that of those eight DJs, there are only perhaps two who I'd make an effort to go dancing for. Of all these DJs, most tend to play far beyond the limits of 'swinging jazz', with only three (myself included) playing (almost exclusively) swinging jazz from the 1930s-50s.

I have wondered if the serious emphasis on the cultural (and material) capital required for playing swinging jazz is exclusive - does it discourage women? I would suspect so. The largely exclusive language of sites like Swing DJs requires a fair bit of dancing (and listening) experience, and most of the DJs on this one sample list have only a couple of years dancing experience. The least proficient have also travelled the least (and travel, of course, demands lots of dosh). On a further note, only two of the DJs on this list are determinedly not interested in acquiring their music by illegal or file-sharing means. They are, also, the ones with the greatest interest in swinging jazz.

How do I feel about all this? I think it's quite clear (as I wrote in my thesis) that becoming a 'good' DJ (and I think that ability is a combination firstly (and most importantly) of DJing ability - combining songs, keeping the floor full, ranging across a variety of moods and styles - and musicall collection - playing swinging jazz) is restricted to those with the time, money and opportunity to invest. I feel uneasy with my personal insistence that 'good DJs' are those who play swinging jazz, even though I know that playing unswing results in inevitable adjustments to lindy hop technique (most of which I think are not good - they result in a simpler, musically and techically less interesting dance). I feel (on some level) that I should be ok with DJs playing unswing, as unswing is more accessible and therefore a means by which more women (and less financially well off DJs) can get access to the DJing role.
I have written at length about the ways in which the 'recreationist' imperative of many swing dancers is a discomforting (and selective) use of history which (as I have said before) neglects the darker parts of African American history and eventually recreates scary gender stuff.

So how am I to contribute to DJing discourse when I find so many bits of it so difficult?

There is the option of using 'buddying' to encourage new dancers to discover swinging jazz. But that feels condescending - who am I to tell people what 'good' music is, especially when many of them are patently not interested in this historical stuff? And really, when the whole history of African American vernacular dance is about cultural relevence, why should I encourage dancers (and DJs) away from the pop music of their day?

I might choose to give copies of the sorts of music I really like to other DJs - how else to be sure I get to dance to the music I like? I have reservations about this on the basis of IP, but also because I have found (in the past), that sharing really good songs with one person will see them spread out, diseminated to other dancers and DJs until I find that dancers are using that song (and that version of that song) to perform routines for paid gigs. And it's even more frustrating to find that the artists' name and recording details have dropped from the song, so it is circulating only as a digital, nameless file.
On the one hand, this is interesting stuff. On the other, it concerns me because (particularly when these are living artists), there are musicians being screwed. I will not go as far as some other DJs and say that I resent this illicit circulation because I'm losing some sort of cred as the 'discoverer' of this song who 'brings it to the dancers' (I'm not that naive or that arrogant - this is pop music, doods). Nor will I say that I resent this because other DJs play this song, so robbing me of my 'ace in the hole' crowd pleaser (and attendant status as 'awesome DJ'), mostly because it's cool for other DJs to hear a song, ask what it's called, say "that frickin' rocks", hunt it out on itunes or amazon, then play it when they next DJ (and I get to dance to that song when they play it). That doesn't worry me. It's more that the song is circulated as a burnt disc or shared file, with the song title, artist, recording year and musicians' details stripped from it. It also worries me that while I might share a song or songs as a gift, other DJs and dancers compile CDs which they then sell to others. That worries me.

As a dancer, it's frustrating when DJs simply take a 'found' or 'exchanged' or 'gifted' song and play it to death, without exploring that artist's other work. I hear one version of (for example) C Jam Blues by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and I think 'yes - now we're going to hear more swinging jazz. Finally. No more bullshit unswing that makes for crap dancing' (and as a dancer, that's how I think - I have no tolerance for unswing. I want to lindy hop to swinging jazz). But that song ends up just as one drop in anotherwise intolerable sea of overplayed pap played in clunky, unpleasant combinations that make for a night of shit dancing.

So I am in kind of a bind. My feminist instincts say 'fight the power' and 'information (and music) wants to be free'. But my dancer instincts say 'play some good frickin' music, and learn to DJ well'.

This post has rambled on far longer than I had intended. And far beyond the original point that I wanted to make. And I kind of think it's become a bit of a tirade against local media production and use practices in Melbourne swing culture. Which is very un-cultural studies of me.

"very un-cultural studies of me" was posted by dogpossum on December 28, 2006 12:01 PM in the category academia and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music

i'm comin' virginia

I'm currently really loving the song I'm Coming Virginia, penned by Donald Heywood and Marion Cook, recorded by a whole range of people, from Django Reinhardt to Fletcher Henderson.

I'm still loving the Maxine Sullivan version from this album (you can listen to bits of the song here). I think it's a minor key thing. But Sullivan's version is really just the beginning.

I'm also quite taken by a 1927 Fletcher Henderson version (Sullivan's is 1956), though there's a really big tempo shift (Henderson's is about 200bpm, Sullivan's 110bpm), and quite a serious difference in mood - Sullivan's is mellow and laid back, Henderson's (though mellow for much of his stuff in this period) is pretty well pre-swing and very up-and-down feeling (ie makes you want to charleston rather than swing out like a groover).

I also have a version by Sidney Bechet which I quite like, and I'm pretty well partial to another 1927 version, this time by Frank Trumbauer and his Orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke. This one, while the same year as Henderson's, is really far more serious. You can hear the New Orleans funereal march echoes in this version (which is actually called I'm Coming Home Virginia and comes from this album). This one sits on about 132bpm.

I'm Coming Virginia is really the best song.
I think my favourite thing about it is the way it's spelt on both my Henderson albums - I'm Coming Virgina.

"i'm comin' virginia" was posted by dogpossum on December 28, 2006 10:33 AM in the category digging and music

pav's cat is blowing me up

Now I need to make this. Curse you, pc - I was trying to be good after the christmas binge.

"pav's cat is blowing me up" was posted by dogpossum on December 28, 2006 10:23 AM in the category fewd

December 27, 2006

solomon douglas' swingtet's swingmatism and the basie mosaic set!

I scored with two bits of music for christmas.

First, a friend's band's album: the Solomon Douglas Swingtet's album Swingmatism from The Squeeze's mother, and second, The Basie Mosaic set from The Squeeze.

Both are, of course, really fricking great. It's unfortunate, though, that Sol's album arrived with the Basie one - they're working (in a very general way) in the same sort of style* as the new testament Basie on the Mosaic set, and really, it's cruel to set the two head to head. Basie wins, of course.

CDcover_small.jpg But Sol's album really is very good - if this band was playing regularly in my city I'd be a very happy lindy hopper indeed. They're certainly better than the B# Big Band who are the closest thing Melbourne has in comparison, and I prefer them to the JW Swing Orchestra, who are our other major swinging big band (there are others, but these are the only dancer-oriented/dancer-trained bands).
For lindy hoppers, this album is definitely worth the cash**.

...I'm try to write an even partially coherent discussion of this album, but I'm feeling a bit scatty.

Actually, my feelings about this album are mixed. Firstly, I really appreciate it as a present - it was a very thoughtful gift, and definitely something I really like. Well chosen, mother of The Squeeze (and Squeeze).
Secondly, as a general into-music type person, I like it very much. I like to support current day swinging bands, especially ones like Sol's, where the band is led by a dancer, and tailors its sets specifically for dancers. I can also really appreciate this album as a dancer - this is some fun shit.
Thirdly, as a DJ, this is some good stuff. The version of the Big Apple Contest is a bit of a score, and there are some really nice songs on the album.
But, fourthly, as a picky, DJ nerd wench, I'm not sure this is my cup of tea. It's a little hi-fi/new testament for my liking (though I MUST admit that it wanders through a fair old range of musical territory - there's a nice version of Black and Tan Fantasy, for example), and I'm not sure how often I'd play this for my own pleasure at home. I do, however, really really like songs like Funky Blues - it feels like this is where it's at.
As a picky DJ, I'm wondering when I'd play many of these songs. I'm not sure I'd choose this version of Shiny Stockings, for example, when there are so many wonderful versions by people like Basie, which really are fabulous. I'd definitely spin that version of the Big Apple song, though, and I might play a few of the other tracks to win over a few of the groover/US-favouring dancers in our scene. But I'm not sure if I'd play things from it if I was compiling my ideal set. Having said that, when do we ever get to play our 'ideal' sets?
So, thinking sensibly, this is one of those albums (like Mora's Modern Rhythmists') which is great for getting the pickier hi-fi dancers interested in proper swing-era bands: this is some shit-hot recreationist work. I'd put this CD on my sneak list. Which, of course, makes this a very useful album indeed.This is a band we should support by buying the album, as these guys are the bread and butter of swing dancing - without wonderful live bands who put such effort into their live sets and recordings, many local scenes would founder in their early days, and we'd really miss this sort of superior big band action at our big balls and major events.

I do regret the fact that I've been listening to this with the Basie set at the same time. There simply is no comparison. Which is a shame, as I do think Sol has done fabulous work, and I don't doubt the band live are frickin awesome.

229.jpg The other CD I scored was the fabulous 8-CD Mosaic set. The Squeeze is the sneakiest beast on earth. In town doing our christmas shopping the other week, he suggested popping in to Basement Discs (where I'd seen this set) for a bit of browsing. I poo-pooed the idea in favour of goal-oriented shopping. He later (or had already - I'm not sure which) popped in to pick this up himself. And I scored big time.
This is one fabulous collection of new testament Basie action. There are some fricking awesome versions of lindy hopping favourites (including another version of Jive at Five for my collection), all in fantastic quality. I'm not the hugest late testament Basie fan, but this is such a great, solid collection of the dood's work in the 1950s, I'm really very happy to have it. This was a period where Basie had some pretty shit-hot musicians on hand, working a band who were really cooking together. I can't get over the quality. Though most of this later Basie stuff is pretty good quality, this is a really, really nice collection.

As I've already said, it's a shame I first heard Sol's band in such close proximity to this set.
But I do think that the two are complementary and definitely very nice additions to any lindy hopper (let alone DJ)'s collection. The Basie set is, however, a massive luxury, and Sol's CD is far more accessible and practical for small-time collectors.

At the end of the day, I'm very very happy with these two presents - I couldn't have asked for anything better.... though this Basie set has me hankering for the Peggy Lee set, which I do not need! 184.jpg

*As in they're hi-fi, have a kind of late testament sound, etc.
**Incidentally, when I asked The Squeeze if I could use his paypal account to buy this album the other day, he declared "no way - I'm not wasting paypal dollars on that guy's band", and then immediately sneaked off to coordinate its purchase with his mother. This album is, of course, very Squeeze like, and he does actually think it was worth spending paypal dollars on this album. Even if they were his mother's paypal dollars.

"solomon douglas' swingtet's swingmatism and the basie mosaic set!" was posted by dogpossum on December 27, 2006 3:34 PM in the category digging and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music

December 26, 2006

trifle = go

We made the trifle and it was wonderful!
I made custard for the very first time (and it was amazingly light, fluffy and lovely), we used lots of lovely fresh berries (though I'd have used even more, and forgot a few of the things in the fridge - fresh figs, blueberries, etc), I forgot the jam layer (but we decided it wasn't necessary as it would've made this even sweeter, and we liked the tartness of the fruit), we used lovely local Taswegian plum liqueur stuff instead of kirsch on the cake layer, we had to use bodgy bought cake for the bottom layer because we only decided to make the trifle at the last minute, but it was all GREAT.
Now I will have to make it with old sponge cake (for historical accuracy), or perhaps a dryer cake/bread base.
Follow the links from this photo on my flickr account to see a sort-of/abridged fewd bio.
pav, you're the BEST! This recipe has convinced me trifle is worth my time: no jelly! No urky rum or cooking sherry! No sloppy custard! No runny cream! No canned fruit! YAY!

"trifle = go" was posted by dogpossum on December 26, 2006 11:45 PM in the category fewd

December 25, 2006

im in ur frij eatng ur stufz

stuff on ur cat

"im in ur frij eatng ur stufz" was posted by dogpossum on December 25, 2006 7:39 PM in the category clicky

December 24, 2006

christmas meme

via pav's cat.

I am really enjoying having endless time to just sit online and talk and write crap. The last six months of insane teaching and busyness have made me realise what a luxery doing a phd is - you get to sit about and write and read and write and rewrite and edit as much as you like. I miss it all ready.

The nicest thing about this holiday with the ps is that we're all superbusy people (The Squeeze does crazy late night systems admin support stuff, the mother ... mothers and stuff, the father is a busy suepracademic) and we're all really enjoying doing nothing. The father's family are big on sitting about and talking and enjoying each other's company. There's been some shouting, but not as much as usual, and not me. Surpisingly. I have a history of Big Shouting, but as I pointed out to The Squeeze, we don't shout at each other (though I do shout, generally, and sometimes in his direction. But not angrily), so it was actually strange to find my parents shouting at each other strange. But it wasn't angry shouting - just kind of loud emoting.

Because it's that time of year (and pav says it's ok to be in the Spirit), here's the most useful advise I've had all year:
The Squeeze said (when I was busy being worried about some nasty and insensitive comments from acquaintances):
think less about people you don't like, and more about people you do like.
Or (the hardcore version)
think less about the people you hate (just give them a punch in the bum and fuck off) and more about the people you love.

It was the best advice ever.

But on to the meme.

1) Do you have a tree, and if so what is hanging on it?
Some nice white lights, some red/gold/green baubles. It's a fake tree, but it looks nice.

2) What's the most successful bit of Christmas cooking you've done so far?
Mince tarts!

3) And the least successful?
Fried rice with herbs. Boring boring boring. Too dry. Dumb. Waste of nice prawns and pink ling (that's a fish).

4) Which bit of your Christmas shopping are you happiest with?
The p's present: it's one of those amazing toilet seats that's clear plastic but with wonderfully tacky sea shells and things inside it. They will LOVE IT. Especially the father.

5) Have you opened any of your presents yet? What was it / were they?

6) Do you have any bad Christmas associations that will have to be tackled?
Well, family stuff with my sister in law. But that's largely sorted. Because she's in Brisvegas and I'm in Hobart.

7) What's your favourite carol? Why?
The Holly and the Ivy (I think it's called that), because it's really nice to sing. But the other day I discovered that the tune of Deck the Halls works really nicely with all sorts of lyrics, especialy when you're riding your bike.

8) Which part of your Christmas plans is most likely to go awry?
Turkey. It can suck if it's over cooked.

We are also flying back to Melbourne Boxing Day for dinner with The Squeeze's mothers and grandfather. That could be a bit tiring.

9) What's your most favourite thing about Christmas?
I like the hardcore food (cooking, more like).
I like coming down to Tasmania.
I like the way The Squeeze is really relaxed and fun.

10) What's your least favourite thing about it?
Spending so much money on crap (though we have become less present-centered since the year the mother was really ill. We had only a couple of days after she came out of hospital to get presents, and because we were all kind of preoccupied, we didn't fuss about presents or food too majory - we were more mellow and just spent time enjoying each other's company and plain old counting our blessings.
It feels like we now spend less time fretting about crap like whether we got people good enough presents or will have a 'proper' christmas (something that always seems on the mother's (English) mind).
Now we just do nice things. And I like that. We've also learnt to really enjoy grownup christmases without I guess this is mostly a story about the good things about christmas.

11) What Christmassy thing have you seen or heard in the street or on the teeve or in the blogosphere that has

(a) touched your heart
Ummm a version of 'from little things big things grow' being sung by Paul Kelly. Not quite Archie Roach, pav, but still, it's a wonderful song.

(b) hit a nerve

or (c) made you want to barf?
I felt a little nausious afte eating too much last night.

12) Who do you wish you had contacted to say Happy Christmas but haven't so far?
Most everyone. I have been super slack this past six months, generally. I owe my friends some communication.

"christmas meme" was posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 11:19 PM in the category clicky

Skater Docklands

Skater Docklands Originally uploaded by 3IRIs.
I had to blog this: Galaxy's little brother is blowing my brain with these photos.

"Skater Docklands" was posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 10:10 PM in the category clicky


im on yr lap
druling on yr pants

i fail l33t speak. txt on ur cat

"droolz" was posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 9:56 PM in the category clicky

berry it up, baby

The wonderful pavlov's cat has blogged her recipe for trifle and I figured, what better thing to do with some of these sexy beasts?

These are wonderful organic raspberries, purchased at the Salamanca Markets yesterday. We will make trifle with them tomorrow (though I must admit, I find it difficult to resist nabbing a couple each time I go into the fridge): YUM.

And of course, thank you so much, pav: you've saved me from urky trifle! And prevented family dischord! Huzzah!

"berry it up, baby" was posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 9:37 PM in the category fewd

hot christmas fewd action

Yesterday we made mince tarts. Well, actually, a few days earlier we made the mince meat (currents, sultanas, a couple of golden delicious apples, a ya pear, orange and lemon rind, brown sugar, butter, contreau... and some other stuff I've forgotten) and then kept it in the fridge. But yesterday we made 20 odd mince tarts. The Squeeze is King of Pastry - I am crap with pastry - and these were fabulous.

Here I am adding the filing to the shells. Check out the rest of the pics for more enthralling fewd action.

"hot christmas fewd action" was posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 9:29 PM in the category fewd

after a few minor stacks and unpleasant jabs in the arse...

Today we actually did something other than watch telly, shop or eat.

I woke up really sore and achey from sitting on the couch, watching telly and eating (and sleeping in a terrible bed), and decided we needed to go for a proper walk to work our muscles. After a bit of discussion, The Squeeze decided we would walk over the Derwent Bridge. 100304936_e91c951d03.jpg At first he declared that we would walk to the bridge (about a kilometer and a half, or maybe two kilometers), then over it and on to the cenotaph. But we eventually decided to drive so that we could get a bit further than the cenotaph - into Salamanca as well.

We drove to the bottom of the bridge on our side (which is the east side), and carefully planned to walk up the left side of the bridge. The Squeeze estimated a couple of hours there and back, but we actually made it across the bridge in only twenty minutes (it's only one and a half kilometers wide, though it looks far bigger). Ten minutes up I realised neither of us had brought a camera, but that was ok. I also realised that neither of us has hats, nor had I worn a shirt with sleeves (and I'm still recovering from an inadvertant roasting I gave myself last week riding to the city in a singlet). So I put on a jumper to cover my shoulders.

The bridge, though it looks quite steep, doesn't feel it when you're walking. But the footpath is actually quite narrow, so we had to press ourselves against the railing to let the occasional cyclist past (we saw about four in our twenty minute ride). The Squeeze and I spent most of the walk discussing whether we could ride over the bridge to work every day (yes from The Squeeze, who rides 10k to work every day and is currently made of iron, and maybe from me who is very competitive and hates being left out, but is more aluminum (foil) than iron these days), ogling the amazing view up and down the Derwent (it really is the most beautiful river valley - Hobart is the most beautiful city in Australia, I think, though Sydney's harbour does trump it), pointing at jelly fish and shouting. I discovered that no one can hear you on the busy bridge, and that a good bit of shouted singing when combined with endorphines makes you feel really nice.

Twenty minutes later, we negotiate the underpass and start the hike into town to the cenotaph. This took us about twenty, twenty five minutes (it was only another kilometer and a half), but was a bit sunny and bright. There's a bike path (called the intercity bike path because it links all the 'cities' on that side of the river - Hobart, Glenorchy, etc - separate city councils) which runs along the river below the main road which is kind of interesting. Well, not really, but we did see a seagull ... If you call the place where rooks roost a rookery, would you call the place where seagulls roost a gullery? A gallery? ahahahahah. Anyway, they roost all along the train line there (which had resulted in a number of fatalities), and we saw many teeny fluffy seagull chicks. And were scared by a few aggressive seagull parents.

When we reached the cenotaph we decided (after a little negotiation, and some pleading on my part) to hire bikes and ride into Salamanca, and perhaps on to Jackman and McRoss in Battery Point. We did begin with a tandem, but decided (after a few minor stacks and unpleasant jabs in the arse) to go, for the sake of our relationship and my groin, with two normal bikes instead. The Squeeze was disappointed, but it all turned out for the best.
We rode on into Salamanca (I had a lovely time on the bouncy, wide-tired suspensioned mountain bike - no worrying about popping tires or slipping on gravel here! But much leaping on and off curbs and other serious Stunt Work), and I discovered that riding uphill (egads - Battery Point!) on that bike with slightly soft tires after a week on my arse was a bit of a challenge. But we had nice pies and then nice cakes (and a frightening bill) and then rode back downhill (woo-hoo!) into Salamanca.
I have to say, there's nothing more wonderful than riding around a newly-emptied Christmas Eve Salamanca on a bouncy stunt bike. We zipped around and through traffic (they're afraid of bikes here - and we found the Hobartians far tamer and less frightening than the Brunswick drivers), zoomed through the docks looking for the seal again (no luck) and then back to the cenotaph to return our bikes. About another three or four kilometers round trip.

And then back across the bridge through a bit of light rain, into the car and back up to Rose Bay.
Where we said hello to the ps, then went downstairs, took off an item of clothing or two, lay down and fell asleep immediately. Three hours later we awoke, consumed another lovely salmon dinner and embarked on the second round of mince tarts and a spot of tree decoration (we always do the tree christmas eve in our family). The father declared that we would watch all of the Star Trek films in celebration of the birth of our lord and saviour, and the tree decoration has consequently been interrupted by moments spent admiring William Shatner's divine brilliance.

I have quite a few more photos to blog, but I'm being told to come and fiddle with ornaments.

"after a few minor stacks and unpleasant jabs in the arse..." was posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 8:33 PM in the category bikes and tasmania

hawt gardening prn

We finally revamped the veggie patch. I've decided to ditch the veggies and go for solid herbs. That bed there that I'm standing on is really difficult to get things growing in. We've a few tomatos who've self-seeded themselves near the compost there, and a few left over herbs at the front and to the side, but it's pretty much empty now. The other bed, on the other hand, is now full of new herb seedlings, as well as the old rosemary and lemon grass and a lavender I should dig out. Now it has a million types of basil, plus other good bits and pieces. They're left in the hands of The Squeeze's mother - hopefully they'll still be well when we get home.

But check out the photos for the whole mulching process. Keep in mind the fact that we weeded thoroughly before hand and dug in some sweet compost from the compost bin.

"hawt gardening prn" was posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 1:07 AM in the category greenies

saturday night fever

What do hip young kids do when they're visiting their ps for christmas?

A night on the town? Host fabulous parties?

I don't think so

"saturday night fever" was posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 12:25 AM in the category clicky

December 23, 2006

feminists in serious dancing clobber

girl3.jpgThe Carnival of Feminists is on. I've been (very kindly) linked - way down there at the bottom in the unclassifiables - so welcome all of you who've wandered over here via Sandy.

In case you're wondering, I'm not sure who those ladies are there on the left - I found this pic on this site via googs. But I like the thought of feminists in spangles, serious makeup and hardcore dancing clobber.

"feminists in serious dancing clobber" was posted by dogpossum on December 23, 2006 3:10 PM in the category clicky


I don't want to perpetuate any stereotypes about Taswegians, but...

Yesterday we were walking down Collins Street (a main street in Hobart Town) when we saw a man walking along with a small wombat over his arm. He had his hand palm up, supporting the sleepy-looking thing under its chest and belly. It's little legs were dangling, giant claws displayed to advantage. It wasn't a very big wombat, and it looked a little like we felt - in need of a serious nap.

The Squeeze told me to "Pat the wombat! Pat the wombat!" but i was too shy.

I don't know where he was going with the wombat, nor what he'd do with it once he got there*, but it's not everyday you see a wombat being taken to the shops. But I guess it is Christmas time...

*The Squeeze did say he saw it coralled in a sort of 'suitcase enclosure' (to use his words) in the mall later on.

"marsupial" was posted by dogpossum on December 23, 2006 2:42 PM in the category tasmania

December 22, 2006

wash your hair, roady

DJing at the Spiegeltent has ruined me for the shitty sound system at CBD.

To begin my evening (I did a set there... um... a week ago yesterday?), the little sound guy (who can never ever be found when you do actually need him, and if you can find him, can't do anything without a ladder in the middle of the (crowded) dance floor) told me off for blowing the phono channels on the piece of shit sound desk in the main room. I interrupted mid-rant with "sorry, man, I haven't DJed here in about 8 weeks, and I always use the line out. Because that's the rule" and pointed out that I was actually using the line out at that very moment. He tut tutted a bit and I kind of did the glib hail-fellow-well-met bullshit where it sounds like I actually really care what he thinks.

I would care, if it weren't for the fact that that sound system is set up for the doof doods on the weekend, always frighteningly heavy on the bass, so all our music sounds ridiculous.

I wanted to raise the issue of how we're not allowed to change the settings to suit dancers who can actually a) find the beat without having it hammered into their bones with the force of a thousand decibels, and b) actually listen to - and dance to - the whole range of instruments present in a recording. I also wanted to have a little chat with him about how it's not actually useful to have a bunch of spotlights shining into the eyes of the DJ when your DJ is actually more interested in working the crowd than preening for the crowd. I did think about suggesting a more sensible set up for the desk than one where you have to physically lift the console thingy out of the wooden frame to insert your RCA cables, feeling all the hairs on your arms stand up in response to the stray volts floating around in there. I considered raising the issue of booth monitors and using whole, complete cables that worked and weren't jerry-rigged into the system. And I had one, final thought about pointing out to him the fact that we were actually holding that conversation without shouting, suggesting that perhaps we swing DJs (or least I) don't really pound the volume too greatly.

But I didn't.

I simply took pleasure in sneering (silently) at his ill-fitting black tshirt and daggy-bum (in a pre-2005 mode) jeans.

And then I dropped way too many lo-fi tracks on a crowd who could hear everything I couldn't at the DJ console, and consequently could only hear a sort of muddy slurry in the mids. I took a series of walks around the room to see how things sounded, and decided nothing could be done. So I had to pump it nu skewl at regular intervals.

In retrospect, it's breaking my heart.
I used exactly the same type (and age) desk at the speegs as I do at CBD, but it all works nicely and is well cared for there. I could play what I liked and it sounded great. There's no lifting consoles out of the frame and then trying to reinsert them without pinching wires at the speegs. There's (one of many available) sound dood(s) who'll cheerfully help me set up and offered useful advice (I learnt more DJing there than in any other session anywhere with anyone else), one who smiled, reciprocated cheerfully when I introduced myself and extended my hand for a shake (mateship in DJing - he is the G-O) and who was, generally, so sweet I thought about buying him a beer for his efforts (but didn't because they were $10 a pop and I was only paid $40 for 2 hours work).

But CBD is a scarily skanky mid-80s type nightclub. The sort of place you went to when you were 16 because you could get in without an ID. The sort of place where you could score any type of drug you liked, provided it was cut with... well, you really didn't want to know. The place where young women met men in their 40s who had interesting opportunities in the film industry available for lovely young ladies like yourself.

I shouldn't bitch, really - it's the longest running swing dance venue in our town. It has 3 floors which we've used for a range of events. And while the management aren't nice at all, they do let us continue to dance there. Though drinking there is a challenging proposition - $5 for a bottle of Gatorade? I don't think so.

I know I need to learn more about levels and things (and to get a decent sound card), but still. This is a blog, and if there's one thing a blog is for, it's misinformed, self-righteous rants. I mean, the tag is always implied, right?

But I'd at least appreciate it if the sound dood was civil. And washed his hair more frequently.

"wash your hair, roady" was posted by dogpossum on December 22, 2006 5:54 PM in the category djing

yay! pears

yapears.jpg There's something about the smell of ya pears that drives me wild. There are a couple in the kitchen right now, and I can smell then whenever I go in there (which is quite frequently). I love the smell - it's a perfume.

I love them. I love ya pears. I do. Unfortunately, I can only find them in the supermarkets and I'm sure they're full of chemicals and are a scary hybrid thingy. But I just imagine what they're like if they're organic. Mmmm...

"yay! pears" was posted by dogpossum on December 22, 2006 3:36 PM in the category fewd

December 21, 2006

tokyo drift

We do actually intend to do something besides eat this week.
So far I've had a couple of naps, eaten way too much, sat on the couch and 'watched' The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, a film which, strangely, has caught my interest.

I am fascinated by the way each of these films seems to be using the same story line, but with different male protagonists, and a host of equally interchangeable booby girls of indeterminate ethnic origins. I'd like to say that my interest was caught by these sorts of things. But I was actually fascinated by the cars and the driving - the way these were 'superlight' cars with 'powerful engines'. Basically, the 'Tokyo drift' involves taking corners really quickly in these light cars. You kind of 'drift' around the corners. Especially if you're in a parking lot or driving down Mt Fuji (I think it was meant to be Mt Fuji - I wasn't really paying much attention, and it seemed the obvious choice). There was a series of scenes very much like the 'learning to dance' bits of Footloose. And of course, a car-makeover.

In addition, there were a number of thinly veiled 'American = best' bits, including the necessity of fitting out an American Metal car with a full-on Japanese engine for the Big Race sequence, the protagonist making friends with an African American kid at school, lots of full on Japanese teen fashionistas buying 'American' sports shoes, a kind of narrative reworking of the term 'gai jin' by the protagonist and so on.

I think I want to see what "tokyo drift" was posted by dogpossum on December 21, 2006 11:13 PM in the category fillums and tasmania

more fewd

Last night we went to Fish in North Hobart. The father had the stripey. The mother had flounder. The Squeeze and I said 'no thankyou' to interesting fish dishes, opting instead for the glutton option. I love seafood more than anything and simply can't pass up the opportunity to stuff myself on it when we're down here. So we ordered a platter thing. It had giant fresh prawns (of course) half a dozen oysters (of course - huge and awesome and fresh, though a bit gritty for my liking. I take that as a sign they didn't do an excellent job shucking them), some calamari in an interesting batter, some giant, lovely white fish in a light batter, some interesting fish cakes (sort of shaped like fat little sausages and very tasty), some awesome smoked salmon and... it all came with their house salad - rocket + pear + parmesan.
All extremely awesome.

Tonight we had some family friends around for dinner, and because The Squeeze loves ham, we baked one for him. The mother and I had had a minor miscommunication and she'd ended up scoring a raw ham. From a butcher in the glorious Eastlands shopping center. Now, a raw ham is a rare beast (ahahhaha... sigh), and I had to ask for advice from the butcher about what to do with it. He suggested simmering it (ie boiling it) for 2 - 3 hours, then roasting it. So I did. In fact, we over cooked it a bit, so it was kind of falling off the bone when we took it out of the pot. I can assure you, there is nothing so unappealing... no, so utterly gross as a giant, boiled ham joint with the fat still with a few bristles in it and kind of slobbering away from the meat. And the smell...
So the father and I quickly peeled away the fat (though, in retrospect, we should have left it on to keep it moister... but I don't like to cook ham with the fat on), poked in a few dozen cloves, and popped it in the oven with the glaze. The glaze is an orange and mustard one from Gourmet Traveller 2004 and is very very lovely. It cooked longer than it should have, looked a bit dry to me, but tasted quite spectacular.
We really like that glaze - it's very tasty. And while the boiling was a pain in the arse, it sure added to the depth of taste (like I know what that means).
We had it with a nice big green salad (our standard - baby spinach, rocket, tomatoes, red capsicum, a few boiled eggs, some pieces of cheese, fresh mushrooms and with a dressing of olive oil + red wine vinegar + garlic + honey + seeded mustard) and the potato salad with the red onions, capers etc (though not the chilli - :( ). It was all very lovely. After that we had some blueberries, raspberries, assorted other fruit and some King Island Dairy yoghurt (insanely expensive but very lovely) and/or mascarpone. It was quite lovely.
We also put together the mincemeat for the pies yesterday, so had some contreau left.
I don't drink, ordinarily, but the father has such good taste in wine, I'm always tempted to a half glass of something. This time it's been a few nice New Zealand wines - Vavasour savignon blanc last night at Fish. And tonight a guest brought another nice New Zealander. Then we had a spot of contreau.

The food has been really bloody ace so far. And I haven't even mentioned the pies we had at Jackman and McRoss yesterday lunchtime.

But here's the ham glaze recipe. I thoroughly recommend it if you're doing a ham this festivus.

Cider-mustard glazed ham (serves 15-20 as part of a buffet)
560ml dry apple cider
100g firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2tbsp cider vinegar
40ml port
finely grated rind of 1 orange
1/4 tsp each ground allspice, ground mace, ground cloves
5kg leg of cooked ham rind removed and fat scored in a criss-cross pattern
cloves to decorate

1. Combine 1 cup cider, sugar, mustard, vinegar, port, rindand spcies in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then simmer for 2 minutes.
2. Stud ham with cloves, then place on a rack in a roasting pan, brush with cider mixture, then pour remaining cider and cider mixture into base of pan and bake at 180 degrees celcius for 1 hour or until glazed and golden, brushing frequently with pan juices. Remove from oven and stand for 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.

I often cut off as much as the fat as I can and it's plenty moist enough. The layer of fat can be really quite revolting, and I say this as the sort of person who quite likes a bit of fat on meat. As I said, the boiled ham was far tastier than the usual supermarket one we cook (we prefer a 'boneless ham'... though it disturbs us to think of the boneless piggies on the farm - all that fat comes from an (understandable) lack of exercise on their part), but it was a pain in the arse. If you're up for that action, just boil it on a low heat for 2 - 3 hours.

We also find that there's a lot of the sauce left (make sure you baste regularly, btw), so we pop it in a little jug on the table, just in case people are after a little sauce. The Squeeze prefers to add his own mustard, though.
And, of course, this ham action is perfect for sandwiches the next day.

"more fewd" was posted by dogpossum on December 21, 2006 10:40 PM in the category fewd and tasmania

some more salad recipes

Here is a 'salad' I've been making a lot lately. It's one I ripped off Maria in Brisvegas taught me and it's very nice.

Basically, you make some couscous (I just rinse it under warm water, then sit it in a bowl with some warm water til it gets fluffy. I usually have to nuke it to make the consistency right as I'm crap at making couscous).
While that's sorting itself out, you chop up some tomatoes (I've found just slicing cherry tomatoes in half is good enough), chop up some fresh coriander and fresh basil and put it all in a bowl. Add a can of rinsed chickpeas (of course, avoid brands like master food - use a decent brand). Make a dressing of vinegar, olive oil and crushed garlic. Mix everything together.
I like to make enough dressing to make everything taste nice.

I've made this a few times lately, serving it with barbequed sword fish (my most recent passion) and another salad:

dice one green apple
dice a small cucumber (you know the type - not the giant ones, but the small ones)
slice some mint finely (not too much, but not too little)
add a generous handful of bean sprouts (the usual type - mung bean sprouts I guess)
and mix in a bit of white vinegar to give it all bite

This is an awesome salad to have with fish. I often make it with pineapple instead of apple, though I simpy can't bring myself to pay more than a dollar for a pineapple... and when they never seem to get below $3 in Melbourne... It sucks, because I have a few really good recipes which use pineapples, but they were so cheap in Queensland, I just can't bring myself to spend up big on them.

Anyway, these two salads go awesomely with fish. Especially big, fat swordfish steaks.

"some more salad recipes" was posted by dogpossum on December 21, 2006 10:32 PM in the category fewd and tasmania


And it's very nice, thanks.
The temperatures will apparently get up to 28 degrees tomorrow, so the Taswegians are all at the supermarket buying bottled water and sunhats.

Right now I'm sitting at the kitchen table looking out at Mt Wellington under a perfect blue sky, with the Derwent all twinkly and blue. Later on I might wander down to the Cascade brewery to drink beer (well, softdrinks and juices, actually), utilising their 'taster' pass, and later on we're going to have people around for dinner.
Tomorrow we're going to go for a big long walk (along the water at Salamanca) until we get to the shops, then we are going to have a sit and eat some restorative fish and chips on the pier.

On Tuesday, sitting about at gate 6 at Tullamarine, waiting to board the plane, we watched at least 2 dozen strangers discover they weren't, and we were reminded of the (slightly disoncerting) friendliness of Taswegians. Yesterday at a cafe I nearly made a nice waitress at Jackman and McRoss cry because I was using my Melbourne manners*. Tomorrow I will take her some flowers and shower her with anecdotes about my family (most of whom she will already know), invite her to a barbeque (at which she will run into her brother and at least 2 ex-boyfriends) and then go hiking with her on the weekend.

*Dave told me to stop being a bitch. I agreed that not asking her about her plans for christmas was perhaps going too far.

"I am in TASMANIA" was posted by dogpossum on December 21, 2006 11:30 AM in the category tasmania

December 19, 2006

more mosaic

Browsing the Mosaic site (always a dangerous enterprise), I've decided I want these lovely things:

These sets are really amazing shit - they're remastered by people who know what they're doing, so the quality is fabulous. The selection of tracks is sensible and/or creative. And there are just so many CDs! Those prices look expensive, but when you work it out, you're still paying less than $30 a CD (mostly), for what are limited edition and wonderful collections.

For DJs, this shit is gold because the quality is good enough to hack our amplified sound systems and dodgy set ups. While you may be able to find lots of these songs on other albums, they're quite often crappy quality - lots of snap crackle and pop, and more horribly, lots of really nasty 'remastering' by people who didn't have a clue. I have a couple of CDs I picked up recently which have the scariest 'stereo' sound ever - they've made mono recordings stereo and managed to remove all the dynamics, and energy of each recording. Which sucks, as these are actually pretty neat collections.

So I'm pining for the Mosaic stuff. Still. Is it worth cracking open my DJing money fund (I've saved every pay so far - and have less than $500 to show for it. Hardly a fast track to fortune (or fame, for that matter) for some of this goodness?

"more mosaic" was posted by dogpossum on December 19, 2006 12:23 PM in the category djing and music and objects of desire

December 18, 2006



"minor/majorkeys" was posted by dogpossum on December 18, 2006 12:00 PM in the category djing and music

December 16, 2006

blog design

Because I'll be sitting about on my clack for the next week (I hope) in between spurts of walking and outside-ing, I have plans to redesign this site.

Right now I'm not happy with the amount of scrolling it takes for me to get to my links in the left column there - I use this site as an oldfashioned home page, where I keep links I use regularly (speaking of which, some need sorting out).
I don't like the stark black/white contrast of the starry background with the white words and I think I need to find a smaller font so the individual entries take up less space. I think there's a bit broken in my template too - I suspect every entry since the last time I fiddled with this site is being kept on this front page (which makes for all sorts of annoying page-opening issues).

I am generally not keen on blogs where I have to click through to the invidual entry to read the whole entry - I like to just read straight down from top to bottom (I'm like this with newspapers too, though). Nor do I like writing to accomodate this break.

I think I need a clearer menu across the top, pointing to things like an about page, a page of links, etc etc.

But there are a few things that kind of have to stay with a blog (with my blog):

  • a big lot of white space to put the entries in
  • a big column to the side where I can put my links so they're quick-to-access (I don't want to click through to them)
  • a search box on the front page (I've shrunk that down to make it less space-consuming)
  • a nice fat dogpossum logo. This needn't be a big banner across the top, but that's the most practical solution (I know a lot of designers think it's naff, but dang, it's been working for newspapers for zillions of years for a reason). I could choose a more squarish logo, perhaps put it over to the side in a wider side bar where I keep the list of things in two columns
  • I like to be accessible, so:
    • I like a page that's a fixed width (and I work on a scale that suits the size monitor most people use to look at my site)
    • I do things like underline links in a contrasting colour (if I neglect the underline colour blind people can't see the links)
    • I use a pale background/dark text contrast (because, as with newspapers, that combination (rather than the opposite), has worked forever, and it's the easiest to read), I test all my code to be sure it works on Internet Exploder (if you're using that to look at this site - CHANGE NOW). This quite often makes me cry, but I deal with it. Even though IE is a piece of shit.
  • I want a nice, clean layout like Barista's, with small headings and without big space-wasting images
  • I want a simple background that makes it easier to read the entries (the words are where it's at - function over form, baby
  • even though things like this look awesome, I want to have right-justified text
  • I want to use the simple fonts I use now (which look better on safari than on IE, but that's not my problem
  • I haven't decided whether I want 2 columns (as I have now) or 3 columns (as < ahref="">here). I know I don't want that thing that's a bit chic at the moment where you have a chunk of info either at the very top, under your banner, or at the bottom of your page. The old-school 2-column/3-column option is most practical when you're dealing with masses of words (as I, and newspapers, do)

My main priorities are: useability; nice clear text; a design that says 'me'.

I've been looking through the usual sorts of web design pages for inspiration (including this one), trying to remember to style it up on the laptop screen, not my giant desk top monitor or The Squeeze's even huger desk top, and trying (and failing) not to fall for bright-colours-and-white-backgrounds again. I style like I dress - playschool presenter all the way.

I suspect that this site will be gradually morphed into the new deal... because I just can't be arsed starting from scratch to make something beautiful that works well. As per usual, I'm too busy writing words to think about the layout of this site.

PS any ideas? Tips? I am a CSS stooge and can html a bit. I say no to javascript because I can't speak it.

"blog design" was posted by dogpossum on December 16, 2006 5:15 PM in the category dogpossum

December 14, 2006

bomb the blog

sorry to bomb the blog a bit, but...

I think I need to learn to Madison RIGHT NOW. Well, I could, because I have no responsibilities! That's a Nicholas brother there btw.

...incidentally, I found this clip on (that link from jassdance in my links on the side there goes to the same place).
This site is administered by Peter Loggins, one of my favourite lindy hopping types. This site has a really nice, friendly feel, with an emphasis on dance history (duh) and less with the interpersonal bitching. I like the layout of the fora, and the tone of the discussions - very 'go dancenerd, go!'
The front page is especially awesome, with its list of dances, the photos and clips.

"bomb the blog" was posted by dogpossum on December 14, 2006 2:17 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

hot and cool

I can't find the clip that I was looking for, but this is one of Snake Hips Tucker. This dood was reknown for... well, watch and you'll see.
But he's an interesting example of something Tommy DeFrantz describes in terms of a contrast between a 'cool' face and 'hot' body. For most of that clip Tucker's face is impassive. But his body is doing some crazy arse shit. I do have a bunch of other references on exactly this topic, but I haven't found them yet (I'm suspecting someone like Katrina Hazzard Gordon or Brenda Dixon Gottschild).
I've wondered if the aesthetic of 'cool' was in part a response to the conditions of slavery. As DeFrantz noted (and i paraphrase from memory), serious dancing went underground to avoid persecution under slavery, and the black man's body became a site of multiple layers of meaning, and unravelling each depended on the observer's knowledge.

Or, in a far nicer example,

In 1901, a former slave told the actor Leigh Whipper: "Us slaves watched white folks' parties where the guests danced a minuet and then paraded in a grand march, with the ladies and gentlemen going different ways and then meeting again, arm in arm, and marching down the center together. Then we'd do it too, but we used to mock 'em every step. Sometimes the white folks noticed it, but they seemed to like it; I guess they thought we couldn't dance any better" (Malone 18).
cakewalk3.jpgSounds a lot like cake walk to me. And of course, there is a long history of derision in African dance. Sometimes immitation is not the highest form of flattery. I know that it's certainly proved a valuable discursive tool for me in the past.

So there were tactical reasons for maintaining a straight or 'cool' face while dancing.
But Malone extends her discussion of cool in African dance, noting

Personal coolness is an important hallmark of good style. Thompson has coined this phrase for such a set of values and attitudes: "an aesthetic of the cool." Coolness in this context has to do with control, transcendental balance, and directing one's energy with a clear purpose in mind. Thompson has identified this concept in the languages of thirty-five western and central African cultures. The Gola of Liberia define coolness in this way: "Ability to be nonchalant at hte right moment... to reveal no emotion in situations where excitement and sentimentality are acceptable - in other words, to act as though one's mind were in another world. It is particularly admirable to do difficult tasks with an air of ease silent disdain. Women are admired for a surly detached expression, and somnambulistic movement and attitude during the dance or other performance is considered very attractive." Thus, coolness is a metaphor for right living and diplomacy; it is "an all-embracing positive attribute which combines notions of composure, silence, vitality, healing, and social purification" (Malone 18-19)
She also notes that
The canons of good behaviour insist that dancers become completely engrossed in what they are doing and avoid "throwing glances" at the audiences" (Malone 19).
a point which resonates with me in the context of Melbourne swing. There's nothing more painful than a cheesy smile for or point at the audience - it's nasty to watch. Though in perfect accordance with the norm of competitive ballroom dance (check out Dancing with the Stars for a perfect example of not-cool).

And to bring it all back to lindy hop, there is nothing 'cooler' than the flat-out, parallel to the ground 'flying' style of Frankie Manning, where his body is long and lean and relaxed, but his legs and feet are going a million miles an hour. The ultimate cool/hot contrast. And it is the contrast that means so much.

So, if we think about this stuff in the context of Kate's questions about hot, cool and va-va-voom...
Perhaps it is that there's the contrast between the 'hot' body of the sensual woman (whether she is generously proportioned, tall and thin or whatever) and her 'cool' attitude of disdain. So Bessie Smith's sporting a decidedly 'hot' (or hawt?) body, but she is 'cool' in her control, her vocal ability. Hot in her statements of interest in sex, cool in her vocal delivery and timing.

Oh, look here's an example. If you watch that solo blues clip (the one I've put in this post), you see some seriously hawt/hot bodily action (the whole 'lick your thumb then touch your hip in a 'sizzle' to test your own heat is a perfect illustration). But they're also sporting some serious cool snub. These chicks are really working it, but they are solidly unattainable. It's solo dancing. No one gets to touch them but them. And they certainly don't waste their time making eye contact with undesirables.

I'm not sure I've convinced myself with all that... Any one got any other thoughts?

DeFrantz, Thomas. "The Black Male Body in Concert Dance." Moving Words: Re-Writing Dance. Ed. Gay Morris. London and New York: Routledge, 1996. 107 - 20.
---. “Believe the Hype!: Hype Williams and Afro-Futurist Filmmaking.” Unpublished paper. Spectacle, Rhythm and Eschatology: A Symposium. University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 24th July 2003.
---, ed. Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003.
Gottschild, Brenda Dixon. Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance. Connecticut and London: Greenwood Press, 1996.
---. "Stripping the Emperor: The Africanist Presence in American Concert Dance." Looking Out: Perspectives on Dance and Criticism in a Multicultural World. Eds. David Gere, et al. New York: Schirmer Books, 1995. 95 - 121.
Hazzard-Gordon, Katrina. "African-American Vernacular Dance: Core Culture and Meaning Operatives." Journal of Black Studies 15.4 (1985): 427-45.
---. Jookin': The Rise of Social Dance Formations in African-American Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.
Malone, Jacqui. Steppin' on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
Sorry, I can't find the full reference for the Thompson quite in Malone. :(

[edit]I just had to add this clip, which DustForEyes pointed out in his comments. Son of Snake Hips? Cool/hot much?

"hot and cool" was posted by dogpossum on December 14, 2006 12:22 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances and music

a long story about blues, women, feminism and dance

Angela Y. Davies writes in her book Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday

During Bessie Smith's era [the 20s and 30s], most black heterosexual couples - married or not - had children. However, blues women rarely sang about mothers, fathers and children. in the subject index to her book Black Pearls, black studies scholar Daphne Duval Harrison lists the following themes: advice to other women; alcohol; betrayal or abandonment; broken or failed love affairs; death; departure; dilemma of staying with man or returning to family; disease adn afflictions; erotica; hell; homosexuality;infidelity; injustice; jail and serving time; loss of lover; love; men; mistreatment; murder; other woman; poverty; promiscuity; sadness; sex; suicide; supernatural; trains; traveling; unfaithfulness; vengeance; weariness, depression, and disillusionment; weight loss. It is revealing that she does not include children, domestic life, husband, and marriage (Davis 13).
She continues,
The absence of the mother figure in the blues does not imply a rejection of motherhood as such, but rather... The female figures evoked in women's blues are independent women free of the domestic orthodoxy of the prevailing representations of womanhood through which female subjects of the era were constructed (Davis 13).

Davis' book explores these themes in women's blues of the period, and my interest is caught by the section describing domestic violence. One of the points Davis makes is (to quote again - sorry) that

Women's blues suggest emergent feminist insurgency in that they unabashedly name the problem of male violence and so usher it out of the shadows of domestic life where society had kept it hidden and beyond public or political scrutiny (Davis 29-30).

I think this is one of the points that I like most. This sort of music is centrally concerned with individual women singing their stories. They mightn't be 'true' stories, but they're true in the sense that they are about these women's lives, and about the lives of women of their day (and of today, I'd argue). And they're discussing issues and experiences which we don't see in the mainstream films and white music of the period.
Davis goes on in her book to explore the feminist themes in this music, and she notes

...even in their most despairing moods, the female characters memorialized in women's blues songs do not fit the mold of the typical victim of abuse. The independent women of blues lore do not think twice about wielding weapons against men who they feel have mistreated them. They frequently brandish their razors and guns, and dare men to cross the lines they draw. While acknowledging the physical mistreatment they have received at the hands of their male lovers, they do not perceive or define themselves as powerless in face of such violence. Indeed, they fight back passionately (Davis 34).

As someone writing about contemporary swing dancers, all this is really important.

One of the central concerns of my thesis was with the way contemporary swing dancers use history in their 'revival' of dances and music. This 'history' is a very carefully clean and safe history, though, and neglects (to quote Paul Gilroy), the “unnameable terrors” of black history where

slavery, pogroms, indenture, [and] genocide….all figured in the constitutions of diasporas and the reproduction of a diasporan consciousness, in which identity is focussed less on equalizing, proto-democratic force of common territory and more on the social dynamics of remembrance and commemoration defined by a strong sense of the dangers involved in the forgetting the location of origin and the process of dispersal (Kelly, quoting Gilroy 318).
As I wrote in the first chapter of my thesis,
African American vernacular dance – including Lindy Hop and other swing dances – remembers this history in specific steps as well as general themes and methods for acquiring and disseminating new steps. It is important to describe African American dance as product of historical and social forces not only for reasons of conscience and to avoid the dangers Gilroy implies, but also to explore how reframing African American vernacular dance in contemporary communities has had particular ideological consequences.

One of the things I've noticed about contemporary swing dance is that there's a lot of talk about the creative moment in swing dance history - a proliferation of stories about how dancers invented steps - but very little investigation of the social and political context out of which these steps developed. So, for example, we hear endless stories from Frankie Manning about working in theatre and film. But we don't hear him discuss the working conditions of black dancers in Hollywood (except in passing), nor do we hear discussions about the reasons why people like the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers came to be able to spend all day and night dancing. Unemployment, poverty, violence and so on are neglected in the popular history of swing dances. My favourite example is the pimp walk - each time it's taught in class, I hear the story of how it was inspired by pimps swaggering about Harlem. But I have never heard even the slightest reference to the specifics of the pimp's employment - his reason for swaggering about town.
And of course, if we follow Davis' point, if there's no naming of the 'unnameable' terrors, there's no public response possible for the women (and other disempowered individuals). It is all neatly swept under the pedagogic (and practical) blanket of contemporary swing dance.

I've also noticed a neglect in contemporary swing dance culture in Australia of the sort of blues music I've been talking about. This is in part a result of the musical tastes of dancers in my scene - a preponderance of supergroove. But in neglecting dirty nanna blues, or the sort of crude, funny, violent blues which I quite like, there's also a clear depoliticisation of blues music and blues dancing in Melbourne. I think that this has been clearly illustrated by a suggestion made for MLX7. If it were to be themed '7 deady sins' (and this is just one of the millions of ideas being floated), and blues was named 'lust', then blues dancing and blues music becomes simply sex - a sexualised dance. And, as people like Ma Rainey and Rosetta Crawford and Alberta Hunter and all their sisters have made very clear, 'the blues' is far more than just sex. It's about food, too. ;)

If all the other political and social elements of blues music and dance are neglected, there is no point of reply for these women in song. And, I'd argue quite strongly, the emphasis on follows simply 'surrendering' to the lead in blues music as it is danced in Melbourne (where the close embrace and tango-inspired moves are prioritised over other historical forms), supports a particularly scary patriarchal theme in swing dance culture in this city generally.
Shut up and dance, girl.

And of course, as a DJ, it's endlessly frustrating to hear only a series of repeated supergroove or soul tracks that don't seem to have any soul at all trotted out for dancers. As a learning-DJ, I want to hear a range of music which can both inspire me as a dancer, and also inspire me as a DJ - encourage me to seek out rare gems and learn more about this music and its history.

One thing that has interested me in all this is the way solo blues (dominated by women) tends to favour the sort of old school blues that reeks of more interesting social themes. There's a world of difference between East St Louis Toodle-oo, Black and Tan Fantasy and The Mooche and Oscar Peterson tinkling away through Bag's Groove once again.
I'd really like to see some solo blues to some of the sassy nannas I dig... though the lyrics might actually be a problem - they tend to anchor meaning in a song, limiting the potential scope for interpretation in a dance performance... which might actually be one of their advantages when we're talking about someone like Nina Simone, who tended to wear her politics on her sleeve.

But, to be fair, there is also the convincing argument that swing dances, as vernacular dances, should reflect the lived experiences of the dancers. This is the one, clear argument for doing things like combining tango steps with blues dancing, playing 'unswing' or 'unblues' (whether it is soul, r'n'b, hip hop, trance or whatever). I'm certainly not for blind recreation (and preservation) of some imagined historical moment or essence.
... but I'd much rather swing dancers today took on both the feminism of 1920s black blues women in a third wave feminist moment, rather than simply accepting the patriarchal (and capitalist! and heteronormative!) constraints of the pedagogic relationships which dominate contemporary swing dance culture!

And of course, there's still a great deal to be said about the anti-feminist sentiments of blues music, and disturbing people like Jimmy Witherspoon. Though I think it's worth pointing out that the 50s and late 40s were far more conservative moments than the 20s in popular African American music and dance.

[edited to add reference:
Davis, Angela Y. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday. Toronto: Random House, 1998.]

"a long story about blues, women, feminism and dance" was posted by dogpossum on December 14, 2006 11:25 AM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music

best work christmas party story

Last week The Squeeze's bosses hired a magician for the christmas party.
One of his mates, having hidden the magician's gear, declared "Let's see him do some fucking magic tricks now."
Hilarity ensued.

"best work christmas party story" was posted by dogpossum on December 14, 2006 10:14 AM in the category domesticity

December 13, 2006

just a couple of thoughts about cold, hot and va-va-voom

Kate's been thinking about the relationship between cool, hot and va-va-voom here and here. She writes:

I was reaching towards a difference between 'I am hot because I am 17 and thin and blonde-haired and look like a model in my designer clothes' and 'I am hot because I enjoy sex and good food and music and many other pleasurable things'. Is there a difference? I think it's the difference between being considered sexually attractive, and enjoying sex. It's the difference between someone who people say is 'beautiful' and someone who people say is 'fun to be with'.

BessieSmith.jpeg I did start to write a really long comment on her post, but then thought 'dood, you have your own blog', so here are a words about 'the blues' from the 20s, 30s and 40s, and the awesome chicks who sang it.

I've done dance classes with ladies from the 40s who sing about making your partner want it/you. In a kind of 'power' way: no namby pamby lady-like rubbish. Get him to come get you, or go get him yourself.

Or, as Velma Middleton said (in her 60s), "Daddy... oooh, Daddy, momma wants some lovin'".

And to quote Rosetta Howard (in Rosetta's Blues):
I'll bet my money,
I can take any woman's man in town,
I'll bet my money,
I can take any woman's man in town,
I can take your man,
and I won't have to run him down.

... followed by...

what's the matter now?
what's the matter now?
I took your man,
and how.


I ain't got no future,
but lord, lord, what a past,
I ain't got no future,
but lord, lord, what a past,
if the Rosetta blues don't get you,
no tellin' how long you'll last.

AlbertaHunter.jpegBut my favourite is Rosetta Crawford in My Man Jumped Salty on Me where she sings about her 'viper' (ie junky) man who jumped salty (ie, he got a bit stroppy with her) on her:

I'm gonna get me a razor,
and a gun,
cut him if he stands still,
shoot him if he runs.
'cause that man
jumped salty on me.

youngAlbertaHunter.jpegThe good thing about all this blues stuff is that 'singing the blues' isn't necesarily about being sad. It's about singing (and dancing) to get rid of your blues. And because we're talking 20s/30s, the lyrics are explicit (dang, do a search for 'Shave 'em Dry' here for an example), usually really funny, and very sassy. And these chicks kick arse.

And blokes like Louis Jordan (not to mention Fats Waller - who just loooved women. All of them and of course sang the line "Fish is my favourite dish, yeah!") sang songs like You're my Meat (which is about 200bpm, high energy and really fun), whose lyrics are as followed:

Outside in and inside out
you're my meat,
ah, you're fat and forty,
but lordy,
you're my meat.

From your feet to your head,
you knock me dead,
you're my meat,
ah, I got you covered,
but baby,
you're my meat.

In the days of old
when knights were bold
they were pious and modest i'm told,
don't you see
that could never be me
I have to talk about your yams
and your big fat hams,

[and we build to a musical climax here. Of course]

It excites me so
because I know
you're my meat,
fat and forty,
but lordy,
you're my meat.


Fat and forty,
but lordy,
you're my meat.

Fat and forty
but lordy, lordy
you are my meat.

FatsWaller.jpegNow it sounds pretty grotty. Because it is. This sort of enthusiasm for generously proportioned women, and the association between sex and food pretty much characterises a fair bit of jazz and blues from the 20s, 30s and 40s. Sometimes it's subtle, sometimes it's not.
There is, for example, a version of Hold Tight made famous by the Andrews Sisters which completely ignores the rudeness of Fats' version. Where he sings "I want some seafood, mamma" and you know exactly what he's talking about.
There's a fair number of songs singing about big, fat (and healthy) women, though Lucky Millinder's Big Fat Mamma is pretty much the clearest: "I want a big fat mamma".

One of the nicest parts is the way the call and response structure of these blues-rooted songs effectively has the instruments (and vocal chorus, if there is one) saying 'yes, yes, tell me more' and often 'oh yes, I know what you're talking about'. Incidentally, most of this stuff is sung by black artists. The white doods were much cleaner. Coyer.

And while songs like the Jordan one above might make you cringe with its heterocentrism, there are plenty of songs by women, about women and involving extremely dirty sentiments. The song Sweet Georgia Brown, especially as sung by Alberta Hunter, makes it very clear that this is a woman who can (and does) have anyone she wants. Anyone.

The humour of it all prevents it slipping into painfulness. And if you avoid people like Jimmy Witherspoon (who makes me gag - he quite happily sings about wanting a woman he doesn't have to beat to get her to behave), it's all good.

All of this is the sentiment to keep in mind when you watch clips like this:

...ok, I have to go the shops now, but I want to talk about 'cool' and 'hot' later. There's some really interesting stuff on the relationship between having a 'cool' (ie impassive or just plain cool and laid back) face and 'hot' body (ie a body that's going at mega speeds, or workin' it old school). There are some interesting things written about people like Snake Hips Tucker, who kept a 'cool' face while his body was doing crazy shit.
...but I have to go.

[Edit: Hello there - if you're interested in this sort of stuff, you might also like to read the (more intelligible) follow-up posts on this topic: a long story about blues, women, feminism and dance and hot and cool.]

"just a couple of thoughts about cold, hot and va-va-voom" was posted by dogpossum on December 13, 2006 6:29 PM in the category music


Things look a little crap around here. I'm just doing a bit of tinkering.

"sorry" was posted by dogpossum on December 13, 2006 5:09 PM in the category dogpossum

big apple

BigApple.gif I love this photo - it's dancers from all over Australia doing the Big Apple at the Saturday night dance at MLX6.

"big apple" was posted by dogpossum on December 13, 2006 9:40 AM in the category lindy hop and other dances

December 12, 2006

asiapacific triennial

i need to go see this.
galaxy said so.

"asiapacific triennial" was posted by dogpossum on December 12, 2006 6:16 PM in the category objects of desire

djing for lindy hoppers at the speegs

DJingAtSpiegeltent.gifI also played a set at the Spiegeltent during MLX. It was very exciting - a well paid gig, where I finally had the chance to play kicking lindy hop songs for a kicking lindy hop crowd. I was also lucky enough to share the set with Trev (thank the goddess for his generousity - I'd never have made it through three and a half hours on my own that night).
So the set was a combination of 'crazy exchange lindy' (dancers at exchanges are notoriously? famously? infamously? enthusiastic and open minded about music (compared to when they're at home)), Trev-inspired old school lindy stuff (ie things I dig but don't get to play very often here in my regular gigs), stuff that's just plain old good fun and a few other odds and ends.

It was an interesting set because I had to move from the disco/funk they were playing on the house stereo (I loath nasty transitions), allow for the juggling performance (I regret not getting the energy up before his act so I could get the crowd in the mood), take into account the fact that many of the lindy hoppers would be tired from the previous gig where (for example) Trev DJed an awesome set - the Gangbusters bracket where his tempos averaged 180 - 200 bpm. That's frickin' fast. And it was frickin' fun. I also had to take into account the fact that there were lots of non-dancers jiggling about on the dance floor.

There are a few rules for DJing at the Spiegeltent (so I've noticed):
1. Saucy = bad idea. The punters just feel uncomfortable. The guys don't dance, the girls feel silly.
2. Food songs = fun. Kids love them. Adults love them.
3. Upenergy = go. It's a fun place, so the energy needs to be fun.

The below list is the set I played that night. I started off with some unswing to segue into my set, then played some 'necrophiliac blues' because I wasn't sure how to get to the main lindy hopping event and was kind of finding my groove (I'm also a bit out of practice). In retrospect, I should have gotten the bpms up higher earlier.

CountBasie.jpgThere were a few bits that I really liked - the shift from Shouting Blues (1949) by Basie to Ridin' on the L&N by Hamp (1946) to Vine Street Boogie (1941) by Jay McShann (extra meaningful in light of his recent death) was really pleasing. Basie has a kicking rhythm section, of course at the piano himself. JayMcShann.jpgRidin' on the L&N has a really chunking piano/base/percussion section (of course - this is Hamp), but it really sounds like a train chunking along the track. The vocals (with funny 'uh-oh, is that a train at the other end of the tunnel?' stories) are typically Hamp-humour. And of course, the McShann boogiewoogie (slower than uberboogie, but with a nice chunker piano sound) brings us back to Kansas (where Basie got his first go), and had that nice, heavy base feeling, but with the lighter, move-yo-feet! feel that I really like. LionelHampton.jpgI'm a bit over Lavender Coffin, the 'gospel' track which followed, but it had the right funny-dark-humour feel I like. The Witherspoon track was a bit of a stylistic jump (to a bit of hi-fi, power-groove), but it seemed appropriate, as Witherspoon (most sexist man alive dead) got his start with McShann. It's also a great energy upper, and I thought that we'd gotten a bit low-tempo there with those other songs.

I quite like playing that version of A Smo-o-oth One by Cab Calloway because it has no vocals and people always ask me who it's by. The most common version of that song is one by Benny Goodman (1941) which sits on 126bpm, is nice, but kind of draggy. There's also a version by Junior Mance (not sure of the year, sorry), which is 125bpm and a big groover song - meaning, kind of dull. I like the Calloway version (181bpm, again I'm not sure of the year, sorry - stupid compilations) because it's great fun for dancing and pretty punchy.
Overall, I was happy with the set, especially with the fact that I played my first 'jam' - Jumpin' at the Woodside. The energy just felt high and good, and I just wanted to hear that song. The generally higher tempos feel of the night generally (and Trev's influence) helped me take the risk. And of course, I should have realised that such an iconic track would get the kids jammin'. I deliberately chose the later era Basie recording (1960), from The Count Basie Story CountBasieStory.jpg (where he re-recorded the seminal hits from his earlier band with his 'new testament' (and arguably better) late testament band) because the quality is sweet. The song before was hi-fi, and I thought a nice, clear hi-fi recording would work best in this situation.
Unfortunately, the base-controlling thingy on the sound desk (which automatically cuts in when the base gets too high, lowers the volume, then slowly lets it back up over a few seconds) cut in near the end and the volume was crappily low. But it meant that I could just move from that to a new, non-jam song without flogging a dead horse. It was a really fun jam, actually, and The Squeeze caught a few amazing photos.

So here's the set list:

Think-Aretha Franklin-109-Greatest Hits - Disc 1
Please Please Please-James Brown-74-1991-Sex Machine
Hamp's Salty Blues-Lionel Hampton and His Quartet-86-1946-Lionel Hampton Story 3: Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop
Amtrak Blues-Alberta Hunter-95-1978-Amtrak Blues
Why Don't You Right-Jonathan Stout And His Campus Five Featuring Hilary Alexander-118-2004
St. James Infirmary-Hot Lips Page and his Orchestra-122-1949-Jump For Joy!
Minnie The Moocher-Cab Calloway and His Orchestra-112-1931-The Early Years 1930-1934 Disc A
Every Day I Have The Blues-Count Basie-116-1959-Breakfast Dance And Barbecue
Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee-Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra-130-1949-Lionel Hampton Story 4: Midnight Sun
Flying Home-Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra-159-1940-Tempo And Swing
Good Queen Bess-Duke Ellington-160-1940-The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 10)
Stomp It Off-Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra-190-1934-Swingsation - Jimmie Lunceford
Squatty Roo-Duke Ellington-202-1941-The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 12)
A Viper's Moan-Willie Bryant And His Orchestra-153 -Willie Bryant 1935-1936
A Smo-o-oth One-Cab Calloway-181-2000-Jungle King
For Dancers Only-Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra-154-1937-Swingsation - Jimmie Lunceford
Shoutin' Blues-Count Basie and His Orchestra-148-1949-Kansas City Powerhouse
Ridin' On The L&N-Lionel Hampton and His Quartet-170-1946-Lionel Hampton Story 3: Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop
Vine Street Boogie-Jay McShann and His Orchestra-153-1941-Jumpin' The Blues (Disc 1)
Lavender Coffin -Lionel Hampton, etc-138-1949-Lionel Hampton Story 4: Midnight Sun
Good Rockin' Tonight-Jimmy Witherspoon-155-1998-Jazz Me Blues: the Best of Jimmy Witherspoon
Jumpin' At The Woodside-Count Basie and His Orchestra-278-1960-The Count Basie Story (Disc 1)
Sent For You Yesterday-Count Basie and His Orchestra with Joe Williams-163-1960-The Count Basie Story (Disc 2)
Apollo Jump-Lucky Millinder-143-Apollo Jump
Savoy Blues-Kid Ory-134-2002-Golden Greats: Greatest Dixieland Jazz Disc 3
Are You Hep To The Jive?-Cab Calloway-160-1994-Are You Hep To The Jive?

...I have to admit. I did play that bluesier stuff hoping to see a couple of the prissy lindy purists dance de olden dayes blues dancing. Ain't nothing finer than the power of the Pad o Plastic. I really feel that you can't dance lindy with any sort of serious cred if don't also know the blues with your body as well - the sort of blues that was getting around at the same time as this uptempo 'lindy' music.
And some lindy hoppers are just so precious.

"djing for lindy hoppers at the speegs" was posted by dogpossum on December 12, 2006 4:52 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and melbourne and music

crazed and manic jubilation

I just found out that my thesis was passed WITHOUT CORRECTIONS!!

I have done the crazy happy dance about 10 times already (lots of high kicks up into the air, a few twirly spin-arounds, some random jiggling).

If I hurry I can do the graduation thing in March/April.

So I am now Dr dogpossum (mostly)! Hoorah!

...remind me to write about the dance conference, will you? I met some lovely (and awe-inspiring) young dancers who work with companies like Bangarra (and how did I introduce myself? "You guys rock!" - I am all about cool. But they did - their mini-performance blew me away!), networked like a crazy person, discovered someone who has Graybags for a supes (and knows Galaxy), told some inappropriate jokes, shared Frida and the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers with a bunch of doods who understood what I've been trying to say about them and ate some of the best conference food EVER.

[and hoorah for the markers - the thesis was sent to them at the end of September, and they had the marks to me by today - that's under 3 months turnaround time]

"crazed and manic jubilation" was posted by dogpossum on December 12, 2006 2:11 PM in the category academia and conferences and lindy hop and other dances and thesis and travel

December 10, 2006

rock on, canberra

Dang, homies, I have so much to blog. But that's the deal when you're busy - plenty to blog about, no time to do the actual blogging.

Since my last post, I have come to Canberra and been at the CSAA conference where I gave my paper to what amounted to a bunch of my friends. There were some rockingly good parallel sessions, including some terribly cool ones on computers. Dance sounds really naff in the program (and that's what it was called - 'Dance'. Mmm, appealing. And in the final session of the conference no less). There were 3 of us presenting, then an assortment of our mates and one guy* who I suspect wandered in by accident (and actually ended up having all 3 of us presenters address a few ideas and comments to his paper in the preceding (and absolutely world-rocking) session which was called something like 'Asian - the UnAustralian?'). I don't think he was ready for 3 dance nerds on speed, feeling the love and ready to Give Cooperative Paper.

We three are always in the same session, even though we don't really work on the same material. It's like when you have 'women' in your thesis title - you're popped in the gender studies department. But with us, when you have 'dance' in your title, you're popped in the dance session. Even when you're not really talking about dance so much as the relationship between online and embodied networks.
Ah well. We enjoy ourselves more and more each year. And this year I felt so comfortable with this crew (as did the other 2), I could direct particular points to the other presenters or ask them questions mid-paper. Not cool, in the world of 'serious' ackadackas, but far more fun. I think I break the ackadacka paper presentation rules every time I present. Too many dance clips. Too much fun. Too much to say. I'm also adverse to using impenetrable ackadacka language, so I'm sure I come off sounding ignorant. Or at least misinformed. I do write papers and intend to read them, verbatim, but I can never resist adding in comments. Especially when I'm showing clips.

In other conference news, it was really nice to catch up with old Brisvegas buddies. Shout out to the Gunders, Laurie Townsville, Sue, Andrea and everyone else - the sorts of people who feel comfortable in shorts and thongs and aren't afraid to show it... though admittedly, Sue's would be uber-chic, and not the Kmart variety.
I also developed a smarting crush on one of the Sydney pgrads (my lips are sealed)**, and my deep and abiding love for John Frow... abides. I was not the only one to admit to a serious crush on that tall, unusual and enduringly shy hawty acka. I am also smitten by (or should that be with?) Larissa Barendt: two top key note talks (missed all the others, and have heard mixed reports about them. Sorry I missed the unusual European with fascinating body language - the dancers on-crew gave very excellent reviews).

Tomorrow I do the cultural studies in dance seminar. It's not as well organised as the CSAA doo, so I'm not feeling terribly confident. Also, there are a few too many concert dance types in the schedule, so...
I've been haranguing KLK about high and low culture and why the only option for me (as a cultural studies stooge), really, is to look at vernacular dance.

Meanwhile, we're watching Back to the Future on telly, discussing our teenage years (during which this film was released), eating chocolate and sending each other to the kitchen for cups of tea.
I pay particular attention to Michael J Fox's sneakers - the sort of adidas that are tres chic with the kids today.

Rock on Canberra.

*He was on my list of conference-crushes, actually. Dang he gave good paper.
**Unfortunately, all my crushes are for people's brains. All my physical desires are reserved for The Squeeze. Because he gives good chop-and-freckle.

"rock on, canberra" was posted by dogpossum on December 10, 2006 11:32 PM in the category academia and canberra

December 2, 2006

the Great Barbeque Effort of 2006

I had considered blogging each of the photos from the cooking efforts last week, but decided flickr was the appropriate tool for this job.

I suggest beginning with this photo in flickr, then following the 'more' arrows to the right.
Duh me for uploading in the wrong order.

NB: for recipes consult the Gastropod Wednesday entry.

NB2: Thai sent me an email with the following:

This cookbook that has all the recipes that I made on Wed:
How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques (Paperback)
by Steven Raichlen

Via Amazon's search-inside-the-book feature, I believe you can just
search for "asparagus rafts", "corn on the cob", and "portobello
mushrooms" to see the recipes in the book without needing to buy it:

Sneaky googlers.
NB3: I believe Thai is mistaken.

"the Great Barbeque Effort of 2006" was posted by dogpossum on December 2, 2006 6:15 PM in the category fewd and gastropod

December 1, 2006

is that a css manual i see before me?

It has come to my attention that having email details on this site would be useful.
I am also a bit over this site's design. Am looking at a long period of (blissful) unemployment in new year. Will do things then. In the meantime, if you're after me, I can be reached at dogpossum [at] this domain.


"is that a css manual i see before me?" was posted by dogpossum on December 1, 2006 6:36 PM in the category dogpossum