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January 31, 2007

the good, the bad and undead

I've been thinking about that Australia Day meme and how I couldn't answer the questions properly. And especially, I've been thinking about why I don't much like Tim Winton or those other difficult authors. I mean, the people who write miserable stories about nice things or heart warming stories about miserable things or uplifting stories about people triumphing in spite of adversity.

By the way, I've remembered another Australian author I used to quite like: Sue Woolfe. Especially Leaning Towards Infinity. And I like Nicki Gemmel. I know that that last one's not cool (nor correctly spelt, I suspect), but fuck. And I like Peter Carey's short stories (but not novels). And there's an Australian bloke who writes crime novels (one was called Iron Rose) which/who I liked. And I like Shane Maloney's stuff about Coburg and Melbourne)

Anyway, back on track, here.
So, about all these difficult books.
I'm sure I've said it before. But.
I read almost nothing but SF. That's either science fiction or science fantasy. Sometimes I read crime novels as well, but not too often as I tend to get upset by the implication that you're supposed to get some sort of readerly pleasure from the in-depth description of torture and serial killers going about their work. Smacks of voyeurism to me. And I don't like it. For the same reason I don't like watching SVU. Somehow I feel that I'm to enjoy (or participate in?) the systematic subjugation torturing, killing and general Bringing Low of women and other vulnerable people. No thankyou.

So I read books about space. And about dragons. But only well written ones.

But lately I think I've strayed into even darker territory. I've just finished this. I have no excuse other than the fact that my mother sent it to me in a package from Tasmania with chocolate. And it's easy to read. And it has vampires in it. And a sassy female protagonist. And now I'm reading the second one (that's it to the left, the image lifted from the site linked above). And before these I read another one by another author called ... Pat something.
This stuff reminds me of Tanya Huff, except without the... well, the good stuff. I think I might have strayed into that land of no-longer-pink books.
I'm not sure if you know, but romance novels went genre bending a few years ago (I know because my mother is a mad pink book fiend and I've had to spend far too many hours in Rendezvous Romance (don't ask me to relive that, please)). So, you know that romance novels (or pink books as they're known in our family, because they are used to be pink) are massively popular, right?
Well, you might also know that women are the big readers in Australia as well (I think that's true. If not, I made it up, and it's a myth I'm sticking with).

So anyhow, a few years ago, as I've said, the pink books went genre bending. They starting moving beyond 'real world' plots, settings and characters and introduced detectives. Then they introduced vampires. And vampire hunters. Of all sexes. And then they suddenly exploded and were going crazy with the whole sf/speculative/fantastic fiction thing. And they no longer had pink covers - they had black covers. And were about three times as long as the normal pink books. But they were still all about romance. And had female protagonists. And somewhat objectified male love interests.
Now, all this, on the one hand, is vaguely nauseating. But on the other - this is some fascinating shit. Sounds like chick flicks to me. Can anyone else smell Sistahhood? Well, ok, so I'm exaggerating on the feminist political theme thing. But still.

Anyhoo, when I was browsing in a certain SF bookshop whose name I can't remember (but it's worth knowing about - they sell novels at $15 or a bit less, have a shop in The Arcade on Elizabeth, sort of under Melbourne Central. It's a bit of a pathetic arcade, but it has a Dick Smith and this bookshop. Which sells only SF. Yay.) I realised I couldn't tell if I'd wandered out of the Normal Books and into the formerly-known-as-pink book section. But all the authors were women. And all the protagonists were female. The covers were black, we were talking serious demon hunting and vampyr slaying narrative action. But suspicions were raised by the humourous (sp?) subplots and lengthy discussions of clothing. And lame puns. Not that lame puns are anything new in SF. SF is all about dag (goddess bless).
I was kind of getting worried - I didn't want to spend perfectly good book cash on something where the hero(ine) would end up spending every second page fussing over her makeup. But I didn't want to miss the demon-slaying/arse-kicking female protagonist action. The guy who runs the shop couldn't help. Even the matriarch, who knows All Pink Books and has now begun flogging some of her (zillions and zillions - fuck, googleplexes) of pink books off on ebay couldn't help me. And now, even after two and a half of them, I'm not sure.

Here's what I do know:the authors are shocking dags - there are far too many discussions of 'ankle high, vampire-made leather boots' and "fingers flicked about the deep v-neck of her spandex shirt tucked into her leather pants" (The good, the bad and the undead, p 61). In fact, I think I need to continue with the fashion descriptions, because these books seem to spend more than a little time discussing who's wearing what. I smell pink book:

"Ready?" Ivy said brightly as she finished adjusting her jacket. She was dressed in her usual black leather pants and silk shirt, looking lanky and predatory. The only color to her face was her bright red lipstick. A chain of black gold hung about her neck in place of her usual crucifix -which was now tucked into her jewelry box at home. It matched her ankle bracelets perfectly. She had gone further to paint her nails with a clear coat, giving them a subtle shine (same book, pg 100).
It's kind of a give away when a paragraph like that is about a quarter of a page. And is preceded by a series of paragraphs explaining every character's outfit. And please - black gold ankle bracelets???

BTW: what the FUCK is a duster? It's an item of clothing. I think it's a long scarf. Apparently vampires dig them. I shudder at the thought. No capes!

So, ok, I think we can assume I'm in pink book territory. If only because we're looking at a particular female readership. Which, apparently, I am part of.

It's worth pointing out that Ivy is the protagonist's flatmate. And a vampire (I can't explain the crucifix thing here, ok). And has a massive hawt thing for the protagonist. Both of them are tall and thin. The protagonist (a witch, by genetics, with an athletic build, sparse bosom and curly/frizzy red hair) is heterosexual. And Ivy has a massive boner for her. The whole vampire-sex-violence-pain thing is kind of overworked, but ... the thing is. It's not like in Tanya Huff's books where queer characters are very much 'normal' - bi, lesbian, gay bloke, trannie, some combination thereof, whatever. Nor is it like Buffy where the characters deal with coming out and move on - monster attacks kind of taking precedence.

In this stuff the queer thing is kind of background static - I smell 'bi-curious' and 'female queer fantasy' action where the women 'are all lesbians' but don't do no deep sea diving. It's titillating, but there's no real action. The protagonist and Ivy do not get it on. We're left hanging for a shag. Rather, for them to shag. In fact, there's a lot of saucy talk and innuendo, but no real action. Kind of like a level 3 pink book. Where level 10 is out and out pron (you have to read it to believe it - those pink book shops, while they're full of gauzy curtains and New Zealand bees wax candles and posters of chocolate are also stuffed to the gills with all manner of hawt lady pron action. Actually, if you're easily shocked, you'd best not read it. This is real erotica for women. And hold the feminist Message).
...which is interesting in itself, but I digress.

Basically, think Charmed, but with a bit more grit. Though a similar obsession with shoes, female ensemble casts and male eye candy.

So this is what I'm reading right now. I'm also reading that book about Marconi and wireless telegraph and a crime novel the Supes leant me, but right now I can't put this particular book down.

I'm not sure what my point is. But I think I'm wanting to say something about 'literature' and 'reading'. And gender. And possibly hang a bit of shit on the whole idea of literature.

Ok, so we all know that it's nice to read a well-written book. I'm with you on that. But just because I also like trash (and baby, do I like trash - I have seen EVERY SINGLE CHICK FLICK EVER MADE. And I love them all), does that mean I'm somehow culturally deficient? I mean, I'm a cultural studies dood. I've read Modleski and Radway. I freakin' wrote a thesis on pop culture. So how come I'm sporting this pink book anxiety?

I think, really, for me, this stuff is only one point on a continuum of cultural consumption/practice. I likes de trash (look, ok, I'm coming out on that one: I cannot read 'real' pink books, but I'm enjoying this stuff). I love chick flicks - lady films as they're known in our house. I was a massive Spice Girls fan. I spent a lot of time in gay clubs as late teen/early twenties person, and not because I'm a fag hag. But because I like trashy music and trashy disco dancing.... mostly the dancing to trashy disco. I like silly television.

And I like to read science fiction. Why is it that I still feel like I'm not doing 'serious' reading when I'm reading SF? Even when the SF I read inolves massively fat books, complicated politico/socio/ideological themes and complex characters?

Is it unAustralian of me to not know the names of any of the 7 little Australians? Is it wrong for me to not read poetry (and to have pretty much sworn off it so as to avoid flashbacks to my teenaged poetry writing phase? Oh man, I'm totally having horrible flashbacks as I type this. No, please, no - no more! No more stream of consciousness poetry! No!)?

Fuck - look at the time. I told you!

"the good, the bad and undead" was posted by dogpossum on January 31, 2007 10:45 PM in the category books

cover bands

Ok, so this is some freaking amazing fan action. Check out this post from Solomon on the SwingDJs board:

(Posted by Solomon: Wed Jan 31, 2007 07:20)
Post subject: Seeking recommendations of pre-Swing big band recordings
I'm always writing new arrangements to expand the reportoire of my ten-piece orchestra, and right now I want to do so by regressing in time. Currently most of my book is stuff from the late 1930s to the mid 1960s, with a special emphasis on late 1950s (New Testament Basie etc.) I want to start doing a bunch of music from the period 1915-1935.

Therefore, I'm asking for recommendations ("requests", if you will) of recordings from that period that I should take a listen to! Here are my parameters. Because of the size of my band (three reeds, three brass, four rhythm), I'm going to focus on songs with great written arrangements rather than collective improvisation. In other words, I'm more interested in pre-Swing big band repertoire (or small-group repertoire with a minimum of group improvisation) than polyphonic New Orleans hot jazz. I'm also looking for instrumental music rather than vocals.

For example, here are some artists I'm thinking of (with examples of the sort of song I mean)

Duke Ellington (The Mooche, Saturday Night Function, Black Beauty, many others)
Benny Moten (Moten Swing)
Jimmie Lunceford (Flaming Reeds And Screaming Brass, White Heat, Stomp It Off)
Fletcher Henderson (King Porter Stomp, Sugar Foot Stomp)
Jelly Roll Morton (Deep Creek, New Orleans Bump)
Fats Waller (The Minor Drag)
King Oliver (Struggle Buggy)
Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra (Casa Loma Stomp, San Sue Strut)
Mound City Blue Blowers (Hello Lola!)
Reuben Reeves (Yellow Five)

By the way, I love vocal music, and I love New Orleans-style group improvisation. It's just that my band is not well-suited to playing that kind of stuff.

Oh, and also, I'd especially appreciate stuff that's between 120bpm and 220bpm... it seems much easier to come up with great stuff outside of that range, as you can see from my list above. But feel free to suggest songs at any tempo, as long as they were recorded before 1936.

Thanks in advance! I look forward to seeing what suggestions you guys can come up with.


And when you read that in light of this interesting post on onlinefandom...

It's a bit late for me to be touching the computer (I have to have a mandatory 2 hour cool off period or else I'm up all night IMing buddies overseas, buying music on amazon and writing shit on international discussion boards), so I won't write anything more.
... but that's some really interesting shit. Especially when it was Solomon who transcribed the Keep Punchin' music for the Big Apple (he wasn't the only one, but his version is the better of his and JW's). Solomon is also a keen dancer and dance teacher as well as DJ and pianist. He's also a mathematician.

"cover bands" was posted by dogpossum on January 31, 2007 10:19 PM in the category music

holy smokes

I'm kind of in shock.
My guest post has been published over here and frankly, I'm having trouble breathing.

I've cross-posted the post here. This is the title Henry gave it (as I forgot that part when I sent him the copy. Doh).

Are You Hep to That Jive?: The Fan Culture Surrounding Swing Music

This is a clip of the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers dancing a Big Apple routine (choreographed by Frankie Manning) in the 1939 film Keep Punchin'. In the last section of this clip they dance lindy hop on a 'social dance floor'.

And here's footage of dancers in the US dancing the same routine in 2006.

If you follow this link you can listen to the Solomon Douglas Swinged playing the same song on their recent album.

Both dancers and musicians have painstakingly transcribed what they see and hear in that original 1939 clip.

Lindy hop - the partner dance most popular today in swing dance communities - developed in Harlem in the late 1920s and early 30s by African American dancers. Over the following years it moved to mainstream American youth culture, carried by dance teachers and performers in films like Keep Punchin' and in stage shows, and then moved out into the international community, again in film and stage plays, but also with American soldiers stationed overseas. Though it was massively popular in its day, by the 1950s changes in popular music, where jazz was replaced by rock n roll or became increasingly difficult to dance to with the rise of bebop, saw lindy slipping from the public eye.

In the 1980s, dancers in Europe and the US began researching lindy, using archival footage like Keep Punchin' but also including films like Hellzapoppin' and Day at the Races - popular musical films of the 1930s and 40s. The aim of these dancers was to revive lindy hop, to recreate the steps they saw on screen. Learning to dance by watching films, particularly films that were only available at cinemas or in archival collections, was unsurprisingly, quite difficult, and these revivalists began seeking out surviving dancers from the period. Among these original lindy hoppers were Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Al Minns, Sugar Sullivan and Dean Collins.

Twenty years after these revivalists began learning lindy, there are thriving swing dance communities throughout Europe, the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and Korea. They come together in their local communities for classes and social dancing, and also travel extensively for camps and lindy exchanges. My research has focussed on the ways these contemporary swing dancers utilise a range of digital media in their embodied practices. This has involved discussing the way DJs in the swing community use digital music technology; the way swing dancers use discussion boards (Swing Talk, Dance History), instant messaging and email to keep in contact with dancers in their own community and overseas and to plan their own trips to other local scenes; and the ways in which swing dancers have use a range of audio visual technology. These uses of audio visual technology include the sorts of revivalist activities first practiced in the 1980s, but continuing now in lounge rooms and church halls in every local scene, but also to record their own dancing and local communities and also performances (on the social or competitive floor) by 'celebrity' lindy hoppers.

The Big Apple contest from Keep Punchin' is a useful example of the ways swing dancers make use of digital media in their embodied practices. But it's also the focus of my own dancing obsessions at the moment. I've been dancing lindy for at least eight years, and dance a few times a week in my local, Melbourne scene. I've travelled extensively within Australia to attend dance events, I've run events in my own city and I've travelled overseas for large dance events (such as the Herräng dance camp). This year, having just finished my Phd, I've decided I finally have time to work on my own dancing, in the sweaty, embodied sense, rather than the academic or abstract.

Writers in fan studies like Henry Jenkins and Matt Hills and Camille Bacon-Smith have discussed being a scholar-fan (to use Matt Hill's term), where you're a member of the community of fans you're researching. This approach is fairly standard in much of the dance studies literature - it is notoriously difficult to write about dance and dancing with any degree of convincingness if you don't dance - it's a little like dancing about architecture. I've also found that combining my academic work with my everyday, making my everyday experiences my work, has been a satisfying way to extend my fanatical obsession with dance into every corner of my life (a little like Henry's writing about Supernatural, a program I also love, here on this blog).

So when I decided I needed to get back to some level of dance fitness, to end the thesis-imposed hiatus from hardcore dance training, I chose this Big Apple and a number of other 'vintage' or 'authentic' jazz dance routines as my focus. I've learnt the Big Apple and Tranky Doo (another venerable jazz dance routine choreographed by Frankie Manning) before, but this was to be my first solo mission, using clips garnered almost entirely from the internet, though also making use of sections of an instructional DVD produced by a famous teaching couple.

Dancing alone is an essential part of lindy hop. The dance itself revolutionised the European partner dancing structure with its use of the 'break away', (which you can see danced by the last couple in the film After Seben), where partners literally broke away from each other to dance in 'open' position. In open, partners are free to improvise, and the most common improvisation in that historical moment and today, is to include jazz steps from the vast repertoire of steps developed by African American vernacular dance culture over centuries in America. Learning to dance alone not only offers dancers the opportunity to work on body awareness, fitness, coordination, individual styling and expanding their own repertoire (a point upon which I was relying), but also encourages a creative, improvised approach to music which they can then bring to their lindy hop for those 5 or 6 beats of the 8 count swing out - the foundational step of lindy hop.

I've written a great deal about the gender dynamics at work in lindy hop, a dance which prioritise the heterocentric pairing of a man and a woman, beginning with my own discomfort with a dance where the man leads, the woman follows, and traditional gender roles prevail. But I've also written a great deal about the liberatory potential of lindy. The open position and the emphasis on improvisation are an important part of this - in those moments both partners are expected to 'bring it' - to contribute to the creative exchange within the partnership. Lindy, as it was danced by African American dancers in that original creative moment, also embodies a history of resistance and transgression, as a dance with its roots in slavery and created during a period of institutionalised racism and oppression. One of my own research interests has been the extent to which the resistant themes of lindy hop, of African American vernacular dance, have been realised by contemporary swing dancers. The fact that most of these contemporary dancers are white, middle class urban heterosexual youth goes some way to discouraging my reading of contemporary swing dance culture as a hot bed of radical politics and revisions of dominant ideology and culture. Yet I have also found that lindy hop and African American vernacular jazz dances like the Big Apple structure and the Tranky Doo offer opportunities for the expression of self and resistance of dominant gender roles.

As a woman, and as a feminist, I've found that archival footage such as that Keep Punchin' clip offer opportunities for reworking the way I dance and participate in the public dance discourse. When we watch that Big Apple clip, while we can clearly see that each dancer is performing synchronised, choreographed steps, they are also clearly styling each step to suit their own aesthetic, athletic and social needs and interests. We see the personality of each dancer as they execute a set piece of choreography. The very concept of a Big Apple contest involves dancers performing specific steps as they are called, and being judged not only for their ability to dance the correct step in time and with alacrity, but more importantly (in a setting where dance competency, as Katrina Hazzard-Gordon has written, is demanded by the social setting - everyone can dance), for their individual interpretation of the step. This is a performance of improvisation within a socially, collaboratively created structure. The representation of individual identity within a consensual public discourse. This is the sort of thing that jazz musicians do - improvise within a given structure.

And man, is that some serious fun.

For contemporary swing dancers, the idea of taking particular formal structures and then reworking them to suit their own discursive needs extends from the dance floor to the mediated world. Online, swing dancers upload digital footage of themselves dancing, edited to best display their abilities. Or they edit whole narrative films like Hellzapoppin' and Day at the Races and edit out the sequences they're most interested in - the dancing. And dancers like myself are still watching these edited clips, recreating entire routines, and then, even more interestingly, editing out particular steps and integrating them into their lindy on the social dance floor, or into their own choreographed routines.

The notion of step stealing is not new in African American vernacular dance - it reaches back to Africa. And Frankie Manning himself is often quoted as saying 'dance it once and it's yours, dance it twice and it's mine'. For me, as a dancer, this is exciting stuff. If I put in the time and effort, I can learn these steps (well, some of them - watch that Hellzapoppin' clip and you'll see what I mean). And if I practice, time it properly and really bring it, I can pull that out on the social dance floor. Perhaps. Contemporary dancers enact that philosophy on the dance floor every day -stealing steps that catch their attention on the social dance floor, or 'ripping off' moves they see performed in footage of dancers in competitions or performances or in social dance settings all over the world. Or from seventy years ago.

For me, swing dancers' tactical use of digital media in their embodied use of archival footage is not only a source of academic fascination, but also a very practical skill to develop. I have had to learn how to watch footage of dancing in a way that lets me apply my knowledge of dance to separate out distinct steps, then figure out how they work, practically. Learning to poach dance steps from archival footage is a useful skill for lindy hoppers. But the testing of my skills is not online or in my ability to write and talk about these things. The real challenge to my creative and critical faculties comes on the dance floor, when I have to bring it - to bring the right step at the right time, but with my own unique, creative twist.

Bacon-Smith, Camille. (1992). Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

---. (2000). Science Fiction Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Clein, John, dir. (1939). Keep Punchin'. Film. Chor. Frank Manning. Perf. Frank Manning and Hot Chocolates. USA.
Hazzard-Gordon, Katrina. (1990). Jookin': The Rise of Social Dance Formations in African-American Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Hills, Matt. (2002). Fan Cultures. London and New York: Routledge.
Jenkins, Henry. (1992). Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York and London: Routledge.
Kaufman, S. J. (1929). After Seben. Short film. Perf. "Shorty" George Snowden. USA.
Potter, H. C., dir. (1941). Hellzapoppin'. Film. Chor. Frank Manning. Perf. Whitey's Lindy Hoppers and Frank Manning. USA.
Solomon Douglas Swingtet. (2006). Swingmatism. USA.
Wood, Sam. (1939). A Day at the Races. Perf. Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. USA.

"holy smokes" was posted by dogpossum on January 31, 2007 4:22 PM in the category academia and lindy hop and other dances

i know everything about strayan kulcha

Australia Day Meme c/o pavcat and others.

This will help you understand why it is that I am a media studies person not a literature person. And perhaps it can be explained by the fact that I read almost nothing but science fiction.


1) Which Australian poem are you most confident you could recite from memory?

There was movement at the station
for the word had got around
that the colt from old Regret had got away.

That's it, homies. That's all I know of any Aussie poem.... no, wait, I know one more:

Jesus Christ,
Burnin' round town on his Yamaha,
Chucked a skid,
Scared a kid,
Burned his arse on the petrol lid.

My favourite bit is the part where he scares a kid. I couldn't swear that this was penned by an Orstraylian.

2) Which of the Seven Little Australians are you?

What are you implying?

I don't know any of the Seven Little Australians. I have never read a story with them in it. Nor watched a telly show featuring them.

3) Which is your favourite Patrick White novel?

Couldn't name even one. Not even one. I'm sorry.

4) Which is the best Patrick White novel?

Can I call a friend?

5) Which Australian fictional/dramatic/poetic character do you fancy most?

I think that would have to be the man from Snowy River, for obvious reasons. Unless I could be ... no. Actually, I don't want to be anyone from Monkey Grip.

6) And which do you identify with most?

Oh, you were asking me which I thought was hawtest in that last question? Riiight. Sorry, same answer.

7) If you had to read five Australian poems to a heterogeneous unknown audience, which five would you choose?

Five that were written down. But I think I'd start with this one because it actually reads aloud quite well. I would perhaps accompany it with some interpretive dance.

8) Which five Australian books would you take to a desert island?

48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earles.
fuck, I can't think of any Australian books I've read that weren't written by Nick Earles or Helen Garner. I know I've read some, I'm just not sure which one's I'd like to take to an island. Nice ones? Maybe ones I haven't read? How's about that Patrick White - what's good by him?

9) If you were a guest at Don’s Party, would you be
(a) naked in the pool
(b) upstairs having sex
(c) outside having sex
(d) sulking with a headache
(e) huddled round the TV
(f) crying
(g) more than one of the above (please specify)
(h) other (please specify)

Waaiiiit... this wasn't just a film, was it?
I'm not sure.
Last (state) election I was herding a few hundred endorphine-charged, sweat-bathed dancers through two rooms of late night fun. I think crying would have been my preferred option at that point.

10) Tim Winton or Christos Tsiolkas?

Because I once had a discussion with Galaxy about Tsiolkas and decided I didn't like his sexual preferences much (I got the idea he was into underaged young men. But then I didn't mind Loaded (was that the name of the film?). The only Tim Winton I've read is Cloud Street. It was ok, but it was a bit depressing.

11) Banjo Paterson or Henry Lawson?

Banjo, because there's never enough banjo. Banjo-banjo-banjo.*

12) Henry Lawson or Barbara Baynton?

Lawson because I don't know Babbs.

13) What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen at a writers’ festival?

I saw someone's undies once. I can't remember who's.

*This is a reference to New Orleans jazz.

"i know everything about strayan kulcha" was posted by dogpossum on January 31, 2007 4:10 PM in the category clicky

no, THIS is the greatest thing on the internet

c/o balcony.

"no, THIS is the greatest thing on the internet" was posted by dogpossum on January 31, 2007 4:09 PM in the category clicky

i'm not sure I'm buying the whole 'flappers are great' line any more

I've just read this review of a book I'd like to read, and while it's all good stuff, I have some concerns.

I'd been thinking of an article where I talked about the way the popularity of 20s charleston with contemporary swing dancers meant that, finally, it was ok for women to dance alone (again). Just like in the 20s. And then I was going to write about flappers and women's lib in the 20s. Reading the stuff I just have on blues women in the 20s, I could probably add a bit about how the 20s were just frickin' hardcore generally. Compared to the late 30s anyway, mid WWII when we were wearing silly overly fitted dresses and then busily being kicked out of jobs and back into the kitchen.

But then I read this bit of the review:

Women of the 1920s began voting
And all I could think was 'sure, if they were white and lived in the US'. Votes for women weren't happening all over Europe in the 20s. And sure as fuck you weren't voting in AUSTRALIA if you weren't WHITE.
And then I thought about 20s charleston today and how the people who get out there and do it are generally the more advanced dancers (in 'mixed company' that is - when I'm at Funbags or other beginner-dominated gigs the noober dancers do all kinds of crazy shit without worrying that some frickin' rockstar is watching). It seems social 20s charleston is not the People's Dance as I had imagined it in two or three years ago.

I'm not sure I'm buying the whole 'flappers are great' line any more.

...and strangely, I'm reminded of the line from a Hot Club of Cowtown* song:

I can't tame wild women,
But I can make tame women wild.
A sentiment I heartily endorse.

*If you don't know the HCOCT, you should. That's some hawt shit.

"i'm not sure I'm buying the whole 'flappers are great' line any more" was posted by dogpossum on January 31, 2007 4:00 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

January 30, 2007

the dark side of the swinguverse

No, it's not all Whitey's Lindy Hoppers and solo jazz routines.

[Benji Schwimmer West Coast Swing Jack and Jill]

When I talk about 'groover' lindy in Melbourne, that's the sort of thing I'm talking about. That's not lindy hop in that clip, it's west coast swing (a peculiarly American phenomenon - though we have our ceroc), and I have to admit that that's some pretty shmick dancing. Particularly when you keep in mind that that's a jack and jill comp (ie, they weren't actual dance partners - that's all made up shit). It's just that it's so... well, look at it.
That guy - he's some pretty hot stuff. I couldn't lead like that. But... you know what I mean.

Why isn't it lindy hop?
Ok, so once you get past the music (which is the sort of pap I hear far too regularly out lindy hopping here in Melbourne - especially the first song), there's the really upright bodies (even leaning backwards), the pointy toes, the lack of bounce, the heels on the ground (putting their weight backwards, rather than onto the front half of the foot)... it's a completely different bodily aesthetic. And very white. This is honky dancing (note the way they sort of nod down to the ground, then up. And flick their hair about).
It's almost latin, but look at their hips. There's no saucy Cuban isolation there.

But I do have to say - that's some pretty dang shmick dancing. Not my cup of tea, not one little bit (though it does look like fun), but that don't stop that being some pretty good leading and following.

.... do I have to mention the whole black pants, black dress shoes, red collared shirt thing? No. Nor do we need to talk about black pants and black crop tops.

[Don't Cha (Pussycat Dolls) - West Coast Swing demo]

Yep, that's that sweet west coast action as well.

And the scariest part of all this is that this sort of dancing is getting about in Melbourne, masquerading as lindy hop. And I. Don't. Like. It.

[edit: I can't stop watching that Benji clip. It's mesmerising. The Squeeze watched 10 seconds and left the room in disgust]

"the dark side of the swinguverse" was posted by dogpossum on January 30, 2007 5:54 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

January 27, 2007

important news

So I've made the transition to MT3.3 and with far less fussing than all you wordpress babies. There will be improved comment filtering coming along soonish (once The Squeeze finishes fixing some crap plugins).
Best thing about this version of MT? The ability to resize the little box you write entries in. I'm sure there are other good things, but I've yet to discover them.

To celebrate, here's a nice photo for The Squeeze (and the frighteningly large number of submariner types in my peer group):

This picture is from this site (c/o baris-tah!)

"important news" was posted by dogpossum on January 27, 2007 1:59 PM in the category dogpossum

January 26, 2007


Now I have a bit of time on my hands (and the inclination), I've been getting into the gardening a bit.

We have some very sad natives planted in the front garden, but I've a solution for their neglect. I take our empty juice bottles (the big two or three litre jobs), fill them with water then turn them upside down, necks dug into the ground near the plant. The water slowly seeps down and out, doing a neat slow-drip watering job. Ta-da! The plants have been a lot cheerier, even with this piss-weak bit of attention.

V_Pea_PurplePodded.jpg I've also had a chance to order some seeds from the wonderful Eden Seeds which arrived yesterday. It's not exactly the best time of year, but we've put some rocket in a planter and I'm going to have a look at a couple of peas tomorrow (Oregan something or other and purple podded peas). I can't believe I forgot to get beans... though they're not always that happy in the warmest weather.

purplebeans.jpg We love the purple beans/peas, even though The Squeeze can't really tell that they're purple. I love the way they have purple flowers and then such amazing purple pods. They're so lovely. That little picture up there is from the Eden Seeds catalogue, but this picture here is from our garden. That's my hand there.
I'm looking forward to this action.
There's also a range of purple beans which change colour when you cook them (to green) which I've had my eye on, but didn't chase up. They're called Magic Beans. (!)

Meanwhile our self-sowed (grr) cherry tomatos are taking over, crowding out the new lemon verbena plant I put in, and threatening the little baby purple chilli plant. The herbs I planted a while ago are going great guns, especially the lemon basil and the Vietnamese mint and flat leaf parsley. Usefully these are herbs we use quite often. Everything else is plodding along happily and the new yellow passionfruit vine is very happy in its big pot. Remind me to post photos of the insanely big purple passionfruit vine. It's starting throwing ripe fruit onto the concrete and I've already had almost enough passionfruit for the season. It's amazing shit, though. If you're in Melbourne, we should arrange a handover so they don't go to waste (we tend to give people bags of the things all season).

"greenies" was posted by dogpossum on January 26, 2007 8:35 PM in the category greenies

Jimmie Lunceford Rhythm is our Business

I'm currently enjoying (another) Jimmie Lunceford album called Rhythm is our Business. I can't find a link to it, I'm afraid. It seems that quite a few of these CDs I'm picking up second hand are actually ones that you could mail order or get as one of those monthly music club deals. So they're not on amazon or the other major music sites. Which sucks, because they're actually really great compilations - some unusual stuff that isn't on the more usual CDs.

Anyway, this Lunceford one is really neat. It has a few of my favourites (Hitting the Bottle (which I LOVE), Organ Grinder's Swing (great fun for dancing but goes over like a lead balloon with Melbournians because it has those tinkly 'organ' bits), Wham (Re-Bop-Boom-Bam) (fun lindy fun)), but also a couple of new things that I didn't have before. Perhaps the most interesting version of Black and Tan Fantasy I've heard so far. Most of the versions I have are by Ellington (as you'd expect), with a few other ordinary versions. But I really like this Lunceford one - it has a different intro and the initial trumpet solo feels quite different.

I'm a big fan of second hand CD shops, and regularly turn up nice surprises. Nice cheap surprises.

I was going to post a clip which I remember as Black and Tan Fantasy, but is actually something else (East St Louis Toodle-oo or something) with the Five Hot Shots or the Berry Brothers or somebody dancing...
...look, I'm having trouble remembering, ok?
Anyway, because I couldn't find any of those things on youtube (one search is enough), here's the Nicholas Brothers, who frickin' rock.

And because the 70s were a very strange place, here's the Nicholas Brothers with the Jacksons.

And because I can't keep away from youtube, here's something else:

Yes, there were skips dancing lindy in the 30s. Though I'm not sure Dean Collins counts as a skip - he was Jewish. That's some serious jazz action he and Jewell McGowan are pulling out, west coast lindy style.
The best bit of that clip is right near the end where the white dood sings Darktown Strutters' Ball - that's some seriously dodgy racial politics right there.

"Jimmie Lunceford Rhythm is our Business" was posted by dogpossum on January 26, 2007 2:42 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances and music

flipper fest

flippers.gifHaving seen ducky's post, I'm now having second thoughts about the thongs I bought The Squeeze the other week (this photo doesn't quite do justice to the extreme green of the things). I picked them up at a supermarket for a couple of bucks as a joke - an extension of the cricketing hat I bought him for christmas (he doesn't play cricket, never has, doesn't really watch it, but like the thought of watching it. Or falling asleep on the couch in front of it).

I spent half of this very beautiful Invasion Day asleep - 12 hours of slumbery goodness. I have no idea why I slept so late (til 12!), but I do know I was tired out dancing last night, was very tired riding home and then fell into bed and asleep straight away with only a token grizzle.

I think it's the insane solo jazz binge kicking me.

"flipper fest" was posted by dogpossum on January 26, 2007 2:26 PM in the category clicky

January 25, 2007

meaningless side note

When I follow, I find I'm spinning every third move. This is partly a Melbourne thing - the leads stand around a lot waiting for the follow to finish making them look good. They don't make much constructive use of horizontal (lateral?) space - perhaps a result of our relatively crowded dance floors, but most probably because there's a very particular dominant 'lead culture' in this town.
When I lead, I very very rarely do spins myself. It's directly related to my other life as a follow - I just get sick to death of the stupid things.

"meaningless side note" was posted by dogpossum on January 25, 2007 4:04 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances


The first recorded black woman blues singer (ie first black woman to record a non-religious commercially released song), Mamie Smith's 1920 song Crazy Blues had the lyrics:

I'm gonna do likea Chinaman... go and get some hop
Get myselfa gun... and shoot myself a cop.

That's about sixty years before NWA and Ice-T came along.

Adam Gussow (in "'Shoot myself a cop': Mamie Smith's Crazy Blues as Social Text" (Callaloo 25.1 (2002): 8-44) claims:

Ths song is... an insurrectionary social text, a document that transcends its moment by contributing to an evolving discourse of black revolutionary violence in the broadest sense - which is to say, black violence as a way of resisting white violence and unsettling a repressive social order (10).

I'm doing some reading on blues and women blues singers of the 20s and 30s and it's hardcore stuff. No pussyfooting around this topic. I'm still working on ideas I wrote about briefly here, here and by extension here.

And to think a bunch of white middle class kids are using this shit to dance dirty at late night parties. Though I guess they were doing exactly the same thing in the 20s too.
I can't seem to get past the idea of the 20s as a far more radical moment than the late 30s. And the 20s were charleston time, flapper time - women dancing on their own, not wearing stockings, cutting their hair, staying up all night and getting divorced. While the 30s were lindy hop time, partner dancing, seriously tailored clothes with lots of darts and War Work.

It's really nice to have a chance to finally read and read on things that are entirely 'off-topic'. I can read whatever I like and write about whatever I like. I still can't get over that!
Meanwhile, I've done that paper I had to do and a draft of that guest blog post thing (which is scaring me - the pressure!). I've also got a stack of stuff about online community to read, including some neat stuff by Barry Wellman about the relationship between offline and online community. That dood is beginning to rock.

...I'm sure my interest in writing about seriously dance-related stuff (as opposed to more media-centered stuff) has lots to do with the fact that I'm actually going dancing more often than I have in a year - I dance pretty much every day and do at least 2 serious out-the-house dance things a week. My brain is ticking over all the time. And I feel like I have the time (and freedom from stress) to really think about ideas and make them coherent (sort of, anyway).
No doubt this is post-thesis euphoria and will soon be all over, replaced by some sort of post-thesis anxiety/depression/self-doubt.
For now I'm enjoying myself.


"nerd" was posted by dogpossum on January 25, 2007 3:35 PM in the category academia and article ideas and lindy hop and other dances

January 24, 2007

what do you think?

Read this and tell me what you think.

I think:
- when I go visit friends in unwalkable cities (like Canberra, or my ps in Hobart, who live in Rose Bay across the river from Hobart proper) I do less walking and don't like it.
- when we baby sit friends' cars I automatically drive more and bike less.
- I ride my bike everywhere and seldom walk. This is a more efficient mode of transport, which means I actually get less exercise.
- you have to drive everywhere when you live in the outer suburbs - things are further away and the traffic moves faster on the emptier streets so it's scarier to ride your bike.
- there are no interesting alleys in the suburbs.
- there are 'nature strips' (isn't that a funny term?) in the suburbs, and none in the city. I don't understand why.

"what do you think?" was posted by dogpossum on January 24, 2007 9:07 PM in the category bikes

tranky doo update

Ok, so I've been working on the tranky doo for about a month (or three weeks - I can't remember which). Even for as slow a learner as I, that's sufficient time to ....

look, why can't I write in English today?

....anyway, I've pretty much learnt the Tranky Doo now. There are a couple of bits where I'm not exactly sure of the timing (is it 2 or 4 repeats of the 'ooh-aah' towards the end there?), but I have ironed out some confusions (Dan suggests doing left-right-left-right rather than triple step at the end of the second fall off the log in the first phrase to stop me being early). I can do it at full speed (192bpm) quite happily.
I've also discovered it's being taught here in March. Dang. But I'm hoping it's the Hot Shots part of the teaching team - Hannah and Matthias - teaching it so I can get their super styling happening.
Or, as I've pointed out to Dan, we need to strut this baby old school before that weekend so we can get maximum show-off value for our effort.

At any rate, the Tranky Doo no longer holds sufficient appeal for the hour of practice I'm doing every day (yes, it's true - but I'd like to be able to walk without falling over, and dancing helps with that). I have decided the next stop on my Tour of Venerable Jazz Routines will be the Big Apple:

Mostly because I've been writing about the way the Big Apple incorporated bits of the Tranky Doo (we love you Frankie). But also because it's a fricking KICK ARSE routine!

I've also just realised that I've failed to mention (in that paper) that there've been at least two bands who've recreated the arrangements of the nameless (and fairly ordinary) song in that clip. That fascinates me - not only are dancers recreating routines from archival footage, but musicians are recreating music from the footage. And it's important to remember that the arrangement of a particular song (ie writing out all the parts of all the instruments) is often 'ear marked' by particular bands. So each great band leader would have a particular take on a big song, marked by their arrangement.
Some of these arrangements suck arse. Some rock. And this is where you realise that a truly great big band was more than its leader or soloists or rhythm section or vocalists - it was also about the arranger(s) and composer(s).

I will report back on the Big Apple and let you know how I'm going. If I can ever get up the guts I'll film myself so you can all have a good laugh.
But here's pic of some Australian (and New Zealand) dancers doing the routine to tide you over:


"tranky doo update" was posted by dogpossum on January 24, 2007 10:57 AM in the category lindy hop and other dances

January 23, 2007

this is a bit of a test

hmf. well, that didn't work. If you go here you can hear the song I'm currently (well, eternally) obsessing about. Duke Ellington's Stompy Jones, recorded on Victor in 1938. It's 200bpms. Nice for lindy hopping. There's also a version by Sidney Bechet which I don't like quite as much - I get a bit too much of the Bechet action. There's a big chunk in Gunther Shuller's book about this song and its rhythmic complexities. I just like it cause it's bouncy and feels like it's going somewhere. I don't think I've ever DJed it. ...I did just write a bit about why it's nice, but MT went wacked and I lost it. So just imagine.

"this is a bit of a test" was posted by dogpossum on January 23, 2007 11:11 AM in the category music | Comments (0)

January 21, 2007

inquiring minds...

Zoe's popped - go here to check him out!

And just yesterday we were at the pub with a friend who's really ready to pop.

Inquiring minds need to know: did you eat the placenta, Zoe?

"inquiring minds..." was posted by dogpossum on January 21, 2007 10:39 AM in the category clicky | Comments (0)

January 20, 2007

bert's recent intensive spate in musical theatre has served him up an order of pointed-toes and glamour-arms

It was totally fricking hot and humid last night, and while I went out intending to repeat my crazy-dancing-like-a-fool Thursday night action, the heat (and rather ordinary floor) disuaded me. I ended up hanging out with Bert*, who's not been out dancing in FAR TOO LONG.

We are stunt buddies from way back (remind me to tell you about the time we convinced a group of Taswegians we were professional stuntmen/women. Truly. And the best bit was that we look like people who like to prop up bars. Because we do), and while we're both a little out of condition, we decided the front stairs of Forever Dance have gone too long without our attention. My describing pakour in great detail only encouraged our belief in our own abilities.
Unfortunately, we discovered it's been a bit of a while since we were in proper stunt condition. Coming down the first half of the stairs on my chest/shoulders/back I realised I had no actual control and was actually falling down the stairs. I decided I'd quit while was ahead - a bit of carpet burn and a slight scare was enough. I was also a little put off by the way the carpet grit was clinging attractively to my supersweaty skin.
But, as Bert has pointed out on prior stunt occasions, stunts aren't for babies.

So we tried a little pakour, using available resources (mostly just two hand rails down the stairs, a couple of door knobs and a side table). Despite our clear 'thinking like a child' skills, we failed to anything other than very B-grade traceurs. Unfortunately Bert's recent intensive spate in musical theatre** has served him up an order of pointed-toes and glamour-arms. And my recent spate of uninterrupted gluttony and sloth has gone some way in reducing my aerodynamicness. I also found that pakour + serious heat and humidity + laughing uproariously at oneself = difficulty breathing.

The most important thing we learnt last night was that pakour goes far better if you shout "Pakour!" as you throw yourself into the air.

*Bert watches old 20s/30s/40s comedy films to rip off stunts - he's into things like Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, the three stooges, etc.
**He really has been doing musical theatre. I was very disappointed when his brush with drag queening was necessarily brief - only one scene in Shout. I had high costuming hopes.

"bert's recent intensive spate in musical theatre has served him up an order of pointed-toes and glamour-arms" was posted by dogpossum on January 20, 2007 8:58 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

she's a freakin' gun

Apparently Sylvia Sykes is coming to Sydney (and Perth - but that's far away) in February (23rd, 24th and 25th to be exact). That's a bit exciting. I'm seriously considering going, and trying desperately to find a way to afford it.
See this clip below? That's Manu (my lead-hero and one of my favourite teachers) dancing with her in a Jack and Jill in 2002. In a J&J you're paired up with a partner on the spot - so it's all improvised, all made up, and you often don't know your partner or have never danced with them before (though in a pro J&J, that's not always the case. Pro J&J's are really good fun to watch. See Manu's response to discovering he's dancing with Sylvia? That's how everyone would feel - this chick's a freakin' gun.

Sylvia is one of the original revivalist dancers, a serious balboa specialist (check her out here, dancing balboa with the partner who's coming to Australia with her) and all round blow-your-pants-off amazing dancer. She is a Hollywood style lindy hopper (or was - now she's just dah bomb), and I amn't, but I'm really keen on learning from her. When she writes on her site that she is a 'teacher's teacher', it's true - she's the person teachers learn from. There's been a ripple of interest all over Melbourne, and even hardcore un-balboa people are interested. Even Frankie* wants to dance with her.

Thing is, watching her, you mightn't think she was all that, especially compared to the flashier, younger doods. But she's a crafts(wo)man. That's some freakin' amazing technical action.

*Frankie Manning is in his 90s now (!!!). He's one of the most famous choreographers/dancers/performers from the 30/40s and you can see him in Hellzapoppin' (in the routine he choreographed - I think he did... I forget...) in a pair of overalls. He likes the ladies.
Sometimes when I'm thinking 'dang, I'm too old for this lindy shit', I think of Frankie and realise I have about 60 years to go before I can claim I'm too old for lindy. And even then...

...I have to add, all the clips in this post feature unchoreographed dancing... Sylvia is just following, and following three blokes with completely different styles.

"she's a freakin' gun" was posted by dogpossum on January 20, 2007 11:56 AM in the category lindy hop and other dances | Comments (2)

January 18, 2007

the thought of dancing in the third person

If you drop in over here, you'll see that things are sounding a lot like a whole lot of swing dancers with too little to occupy their immediate attention.

I have only two things to add:

1. I wrote my thesis in the first person and began each chapter with an anecdote, not to mention peppering the whole thing with talk about me. This is partly because I was actually spending a bit of time talking about how to do research as scholar-fan (to use Matt Hills' term)/member of the community you're researching. But mostly it was because I am a hopeless narcissist. It simply became ridiculous to write about this stuff without the first person - imagine all this in not-first-person (apologies - this is from a not-final-draft):

My earliest experience with swing dance was framed by university culture. As the social convenor for my postgraduate association in 1999, I was asked to organise a group expedition to a local venue that featured a live jazz band and swing dance classes. I fell instantly in love. Moving to Melbourne in 2001 for postgraduate study, I found the local swing dance community offered a natural complement to the work and culture of academic life, and quickly became a ‘serious dancer’. Five years later, I am well familiar with ‘the zone’ and all its attractions, have devoted countless hours and dollars to its pursuit, and become firmly entangled in both the local and international swing dance community. This doctoral thesis signals not only the completion of years of academic study in cultural studies and media studies, but also my critical engagement with a community and hobby which has played such a large part in my life.

During my time in the swing dancing community, my interest has frequently been arrested by:
1) the encouragement and embodiment of traditional gender roles and social relations in the dance;
2) the ways in which these embodied dance practices and representations of identity are managed by communications media and technology; and
3) by the discursive activities of institutions and organisations within the community.
I am continually surprised by the way traditional gender roles are enforced in contemporary swing dance culture, despite the more liberal examples offered by the African American history of swing dances. I am also struck by the capitalist nature of contemporary swing dance culture articulated by dance schools and institutions, again, despite the social history of African American vernacular dance. These issues have led me to a more comprehensive research project where I asked how embodied dance practice in this community have been mediated by technology and institutions, and what are the effects of this mediation?

Much of what I have observed in terms of media practice in contemporary swing dance culture echoes the literature dealing with media fandom in cultural studies. In this small community of interest, members adopt active and creative approaches to texts and discourse, routinely poaching ideas and structures from official discourses and media texts to create new creative works. Fan studies offers me a means by which to approach my research, not only in terms of theoretical frameworks, but also in terms of considering my role as a researcher who is also a member of the community I am studying. Despite my interest in media use within this community, swing dancers are, above all else, dancers, engaged in embodied discourse and cultural practice, always with an eye to social engagement with other dancers.

A large part of the introduction, from which this bit was taken, is devoted to my figuring out how to talk about and write about a community of which I am a part. I did try writing in the not-first-person. It was mostly ok until I started trying to talk about what it felt like to actually dance. Then it just got dumb.

In fact, one of the major arguments in my work is that the divide between performer and audience in concert dance is a marker of middle class Anglo ideological stuff.

Here's some stuff from the paper I'm trying to write writing.

African American vernacular dance of the swing era, with its emphasis on improvisation and the creative contribution of individual dancers, rather than the prioritisation of choreographed performances and of choreographers as orchestrating artists, presents a public discourse that demands individual contributions. Social standing is assured by the ability to produce improvised or innovative new steps or variations on familiar steps, making public contributions to public discourse, representing the self in community discourse. A popular phrase in contemporary swing dance culture, shouted to encourage dancers in competitions or in jams or battles on the social dance floor, epitomises this notion: “Bring it!” And what is being brought to this discourse is an authentic or convincing self. Make it real or dance real feelings (whether these are anger or joy or derision or ironic humour), or stay off the floor.
...and then...
Ward makes this distinction: “there is a categorical divide between dancers and the audience in performance dance …that does not exist between dancers and spectators in social dance, where those roles are interchangeable” (18). I read this dynamic relationship between the roles of ‘spectator’ and ‘dancer’ in social or vernacular dance as a clear example of the ways in which readers participate in the making of meaning in textual interpretation. Thomas DeFrantz describes the call-and-response between performers and audiences in African American music and dance in "Believe the Hype", arguing that this structure is carried on into other media forms, and he takes music video and film as his key examples.

In the case of dance, the text is a dance, or a dancer’s body, or just ‘dancing’, and the reader makes meaning through reading this text not only as a spectator, but also through their knowledge as dancers. This ability to make meaning even from unfamiliar choreography is facilitated by the cultural knowledge of movement that we all learn as social beings within a community. We know that this is dance, we recognise it as such in this moment, because we have danced, we have seen dance before. We have occupied and are occupying the roles of spectator and performer and are culturally familiar with this as dance.

I can promise you only that more quotes from my thesis will be forthcoming. No one will ever read the bloody thing if I don't, and fuck, we endorse strutting in our house.
I will also, no doubt, continue to quote from papers until I get them under control. I am working at home, alone, and don't see another acka type person more than once or twice a semester. This is the online equivalent of talking to yourself.

But, wait, my second thing:

2) If the first person is using 'I' and the third person is saying things like "dogpossum disapproves of most things" and "today dogpossum will take her tea at her desk, though she will consider wearing pants so as to avoid unfortunate scorchings", what's the second person? Is it (to make oh, perhaps another quote from a little thing I've just finished)...

In the zone, you respond without thinking, your senses taken up by the music, by your partner and by your own emotional responses in a state or way of being that can only be described as – thinking with the body.


I think this is the sort of question that &Duck could answer.

.... look, I'm still giggling at the thought of dancing in the third person. One of the indelible rules of partner dancing is that you have to stop thinking to make it work. And one of the most excellent bits of my research has been the way thinking academically about dancing on the dance floor is the one sure way of having a really crap dance.

oo, oo, I'd really like to write a bit about choreography and the 'third person' in that process. There's some really fabulous stuff written on the choreographic process and its ideological function/context. I'm a big fan of the idea of improvisation as choreography, which suggests that you make shit up as you go along, so the new steps you create are necessarily function-first. This is of course in direct contradiction with the sort of tortured-artist-in-an-ivory-studio idea that gets trundled along in ballet and concert dance (and much of dance studies - you should see how excited they get about the idea of geneologies of dance - where they trace the influence a particular teacher had on a line of dancers/students).

[edit: oops. forgot some references:
DeFrantz, Thomas. “Believe the Hype!: Hype Williams and Afro-Futurist Filmmaking.” Unpublished paper. Spectacle, Rhythm and Eschatology: A Symposium. University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 24th July 2003.

Ward, Andrew. "Dancing around Meaning (and the Meaning around Dance)." Dance in the City. Ed. Helen Thomas. London: Macmillan, 1997. 3-20. ]

[another edit: I also like the way it's assumed that blogging is about telling the truth. Whether you're writing with emotional honesty or with careful logic and supporting linkage. Surely I'm not the only one who's digging the implied gendered assumptions about writing here?]

"the thought of dancing in the third person" was posted by dogpossum on January 18, 2007 5:06 PM in the category academia and clicky and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

happy coincidence

normal_7iplodpassemuraille.jpgI'm doing a bit of research on youtube for this paper I'm doing (and discovering in the process that deciding to 'stop reading', while a fabulous tool for getting the thesis done, has left me... oh, at least a few years behind the published world of academia), and have come across this neat article on M/C by Paula Geyh. Do go read it - it's only a little thing, and does the nicest job of combining talk about bodies, urban space and D&G I've seen yet.
I am a massive big nerd for anything to do with bodies and dance/gymnastics/beautiful, rhythmic movement, and this stuff on parkour (which I've also heard referred to as urban junglism) is absolutely right up my alley.

To quote directly from wikipedia:

Parkour (IPA: [paʁ.'kuʁ], often abbreviated PK) is a physical discipline of French origin in which the participant — called a traceur (/tʁa.'sœʁ/) — attempts to pass in obstacles in the fastest and most direct manner possible. The obstacles can be anything in the environment, so parkour is often practiced in urban areas because of many suitable public structures, such as buildings, rails, and walls.
And to continue with a quote from Geyh's article,
Defined by originator David Belle as “an art to help you pass any obstacle”, the practice of “parkour” or “free running” constitutes both a mode of movement and a new way of interacting with the urban environment. Parkour was created by Belle (partly in collaboration with his childhood friend Sébastien Foucan) in France in the late 1980s. As seen in the following short video “Rush Hour”, a trailer for BBC One featuring Belle, parkour practitioners (known as “traceurs”), leap, spring, and vault from objects in the urban milieu that are intended to limit movement (walls, curbs, railings, fences) or that unintentionally hamper passage (lampposts, street signs, benches) through the space.

So when we watch footage of that parkour stuff, we're watching a combination of practical (yet wonderfully imaginative and creative) urban locomotion. But the bit that catches my interest is the repeatedly quoted line from Sebastien Foucan,

"And really the whole town was there for us; there for free running. You just have to look, you just have to think, like children." This, as he describes, is "the vision of Parkour." (Wikipedia article)

I like that idea - thinking like a child. This is play. But it also involes a creative and unconscious approach to physical activity. One of the things I've noticed about swing dancers - they're particularly keen to try new things, particularly sports, physical activities, games, tricks and 'stunts'. I think it's because they've discovered that you have to just try things (as Sugar Sullivan would shout at us in class - "If you don't try to dance it, you will never dance it!"), throw yourself into activities, even if you're likely to look foolish or fall over. When you know the limits of your body, you can trust yourself to do things which appear physically difficult. And when you're used to experimenting physically, you stop worrying about looking foolish or being embarassed.

As an example, I am frequently (if not always) the only woman leading in aerials classes. I hear comments about how leads (or bases) should be physically strong, and there's certainly a degree of posturing by some male dancers in regards to being a base. But the truth of the matter is, if you have good technique and do moves correctly, you don't need to be ridiculously strong at all. I'm no stronger than the average woman, and certainly not as strong as most men my size, but I know that I can lift my partner up onto my shoulder and flip her over. Because I know how to use my body effectively, and work with her body. You are in greater danger of hurting yourself or your partner if you enter these activities with some grandiose idea of your own strength, or, conversely, with the idea that you're going to get hurt. In learning aerials, the conventional 'female = weak/vulnerable', 'male = strong and protective' is rubbish. Self reliance, good communication, solid technique and using spotters are key parts of safe aerials

But back to the parkour people...

There's lots of talk about military obstacle courses and so on in discussions of parkour, and escaping and leaping and reaching (the latter two I quite like, as ideas), but I'm really struck by the emphasis on creative responses to obstacles, yet with a practical eye. Ostentatious flips are debated - are they un-pakour because they're aesthetic (an unnecessary) embelishments?

But the part of this that I'm really interested in, is Geyhr's references to flow:

One might even say that the urban space is re-embodied — its rigid strata effectively “liquified.” In Jump London, the traceur Jerome Ben Aoues speaks of a Zen-like “harmony between you and the obstacle,” an idealization of what is sometimes described as a state of “flow,” a seemingly effortless immersion in an activity with a concomitant loss of self-consciousness. It suggests a different way of knowing the city, a knowledge of experience as opposed to abstract knowledge: parkour is, Jaclyn Law argues, “about curiosity and seeing possibilities — looking at a lamppost or bus shelter as an extension of the sidewalk”
Flow is something that's come up in swing dance discussions. I've mentioned it very briefly in my own work, but without using that term.

Dancers often talk about being 'in the zone'. As with that notion of flow, the zone is the place where you stop consciously directing your body, but respond to the music, to the weight changes and posture and movements of your partner on an almost instinctive level. I think it's important to point out that this point of flow or zone is only achievable if your body and reactions are at a particular level of ability. To make this work, you must have a degree of body awareness, a stability of core, clear lines of alignment in joints and muscles and bones, some level of fitness and a willingness to 'give in' or 'surrender' what I call 'high brain stuff'. You have to stop planning and to just give in and move.

Needless to say, this is one of the most wonderful parts of dancing, and the point to which most dancers reach toward. It's often the motivation for travelling internationally or interstate to attend exchanges, where the sleep deprivation and intense socialising helps bring that point of flow closer. It's something that newer dancers don't feel, but suddenly, at about a couple of years, suddenly do feel, and get seriously addicted.

The thing that catches my attention in the discussion of parkour is that this flow is about the relationship between body and environment. With dancers, it is about body and body and floor.

So go read that nice article, if only to check out the neat clip.

Geyh, Paula. "Urban Free Flow: A Poetics of Parkour." M/C Journal. 9.3 (2006). 18 Jan. 2007 .

Photo from this site, a photo by a parkour dood, uploaded to

"happy coincidence" was posted by dogpossum on January 18, 2007 1:34 PM in the category academia and clicky and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (6)

January 17, 2007

youtube = great

Hey, homies, has anyone seen Birds of Prey? The telly series from 2002? It looks like exactly my cup of tea. I suspect it's supercrap, but if I can watch Aquaman, the Smalls spin-off, I can certainly handle a little Batkid action.

I gots a look at the promo thing here (and here with the alternative, hawt Sherylin Fenn action) but haven't managed to figure out which clip comes next.

Youtube = great.

...but dang this media convergence thing. Is it still telly if it was never screened on telly, but you watched it on youtube? Does the form determine 'tellyness', or is it the mode of reception?

"youtube = great" was posted by dogpossum on January 17, 2007 7:16 PM in the category clicky and television | Comments (0)

telly update

I need to get you all up to date with the telly I'm watching.

As you know, I'm a big fat Smallville fan, and cannot justify this passion with any sensible reason. I don't find the protagonist (or anyone else in the program) particularly hawt (though Lana's real-life athletic ability blows my brain. I LOVE that she's far more athletic and body-aware than Clark's actor). I don't much care about the story (though I do like the idea of a pre-superman Clarky, and have speculated at length about his eventual superhero/secret identity split, not to mention the relationship between Clark and Lex as possible motivation for their falling out - slash-gone-wrong!).
I think it's a combination of speculative fiction-ness + bright colours + teen telly + serial narrative.

We are still waiting on season 3 of Deadwood. Now that's the fushizzle.

We have just finished season 5 (or is it 4?) of The Sopranos, and while I'd really like to see the next season(s), I do find it a bit dark and distressing.

We have given up on rewatching Buffy and Angel, but you know.

supernatural-1.jpg Forced to the point of desperation, I decided to start on Supernatural. Browsing my local video shop, it was either that or Party of Five (goddess forbid). It's ok, I like it. It looks good (though there are some dodgy moments - don't pay too much attention to where the window frame is when the boys are talking while driving in their car), the characters are hawt (Lana's boyfriend is here, as Dean - and much better cast), we keep running into people from Angel (Angel's son, Fred and - most fabulously - Darla, in a top episode about faith healing) and there's a big fat muscle car that would make Glen weep.


It's the big fat muscle car that kind of set up my viewing for me, really.

Does anyone else remember Good Guys Bad Guys? I think, more importantly, does anyone remember a) the car? and b) Marcus Graham, gay man extrordinaire? Watching Supernatural, all I can think of is that excellent Aussie drama, particularly when the boys slip into their eternally-shiny muscle car.

supernatural.jpg Maybe it's just that I'm geared towards romantic comedies with a supernatural twist, but I need to see a little unrequited lust action. As with Lex and Clark, I just know that Dean and Sam are suppressing deep, reciprocated, yet repressed desires. The whole being brothers thing? Ah, we all know it's a sham, a cover up. And I'm sure I'm not the only one noticing this relationship - the doods are continually checking into cheap motel rooms together. And remember that episode Bugs, where they were mistaken for a couple investing in a property on a new housing estate (not once but a few times)?

I don't really know what I like about this program. I'm easily scared, and get a good scaring each episode (sad but true). I get a bit annoyed by the excessive contrast - too much dark. Too much blue light. I know that's the point and that this is a semi-horror show, but...
I'm also a bit annoyed by the sloooow meta-arc (is that the term - you know, the overarching story arc that links all the episodes in the season together). These are in part problems resulting from my binge-viewing (man, who watches telly one episode at a time any more? That's crazy talk!), but perhaps also part of the first-season problems that happen with most of these programs. I'm also a bit yeah-yeah, monster of the week, but that could improve - look where buffy went from there.

I'm also a bit unsure of the gender stuff. So far (I'm only part way through season one), girls are to be ogled (usually by Dean, though surreptitiously by Sam on occasion... though he spends far more time looking at Dean), saved and then left behind. Except for that hitchhiking wicca chick. But I just figure, this whole program is so mega-masculinity it kind of topples over under its own weight, crumbling into delicious homoerotic subtext. No one does uber-macho like a gay man.

But if you're looking for beautiful fannish stuff (and we are, of course), then you have to check out the Supernatural action on Misplaced Moments. If you're a Buffy, Firefly of other supernatural fan, you'll find plenty of other lovely things on that site.

heroes4.jpgAnd beyond Supernatural, we've also gotten hold of the first eight episodes of Heroes, which we're... hm. I want to say enjoying. But goddamn, that's some gorey shit. I don't much like guts, and Heroes is riddled with it. I'd definitely not let a kid watch it, so I'm not sure what Channel 7 (or is 9?) are thinking with their advertising. I'm not sure about the gender stuff there yet, either. All fairly traditional stuff, and the writing is a bit ordinary (at episode 3), so I'm not expecting anything particularly subersive. I've also noticed a few too many continuity errors, which does not please me. But I need some good, solid telly action, on DVD so I don't have to fool with ad breaks and not seeing the whole thing all at once.

, however, rocks the free world.

[EDIT: I had to add that pic of the Heroes doods because I'm a bit fascinated by the whole 'ensemble cast' thing in these sorts of telly shows. I remember Joss Whedon explaining that Firefly wouldn't have really worked long term because the cast was too small - too few major characters to sustain a program over a long period of time. This is an interesting thought, and makes me wonder if it's a marker of nowen days telly. Did programs like, name blank. That 70s cop drama with the two women cops. Anyway, did it have a big ensemble cast? Is it a drama thing, because shows like Raymond (gag) manage with a small cast. If you have too small a cast, do you end up in monster-of-the-week territory (poor Sam and Dean. Destined to travel the deep south scuffling with monsters til someone discovers they need a few more characters. Sigh)?

2nd EDIT: I forgot to mention. The thing that I REALLY hate about Supernatural is the way the supernatural stuff is always really evil. There's no sitting down at a poker table to gamble for kittens with these doods.

3rd EDIT: Link to official Supernatural via Glenn's interesting post. I am so five minutes ago.]

"telly update" was posted by dogpossum on January 17, 2007 2:20 PM in the category television | Comments (4)

someone else said it betterer

Stephanie pointed me in the direction of this nice blog. There, Meredith has said far more succinctly what I was trying to say in my last post:

I had promised myself for a year or so that when I finished my PhD I'd start a blog. Marrickvillia was a reward to myself, away from the academic grind - a place to write lightheartedly. It also turned into an escape...

"someone else said it betterer" was posted by dogpossum on January 17, 2007 2:01 PM in the category clicky

probably too long and definitely unfocussed

There's been a bit of a scuffle going on around the Golden Bloggies lately (you can read an installment on LP, and I have to confess, I have mixed feelings. I tried to read up on the awards on the official sites, but lost interest fairly quickly (mostly because I couldn't find the rules or the list of entrants or understand what was going on). I heard about these things first from Mz Tartan, then nick cetacean, then from some other people on some other blogs (I can't remember where or when - it was over christmas and I was busy).

I've had a look at a few of the winning posts (there were a bunch short listed, and they're being reposted over the next bit of time), when they've been linked to by other people, but mostly I've not bothered.

I think it's because I'm not really sure there's much point in a bunch of awards for blogs.

Frankly, the thought scares the living shit out of me - I really can't stand the thought of there being people out there reading this mass of dance-nerdery and recipes (the swing dancer alternative to photos of cats, unicorns and purple cursive font action) and assessing it seriously. I read and write for a job, and for me, a blog - this blog - is a chance to just write and write and write and write and not edit (I just write into the box on movable type here - that's why I have so many typos. Sometimes I go back to fix a post with masses of horrible mistakes, or to fiddle with layout). I can just write down a bunch of crap, add in a picture (if I can be bothered), click post and then walk away.

Writing here is a chance for me to write crap that has no real point, isn't developing another point, and doesn't necessarily make any sense. I like just floating ideas without citing sources or supporting arguments. I prefer posting here on my blog to participating on discussion boards, because here I have complete control and can just delete the comments made by people I really can't fucking stand who give me shit on other online spaces. I love that delete button.

I like writing here because it's a chance for me to keep my writing hand in when I get all blocked on my work writing. There's nothing so debilitating or distressing to someone who's job is all about writing, or for whom their entire working self is all about writing than to suddenly find they can't string a sentence together. During those moments when I've gone back through a day's worth of work and thought "Holy shit, I frickin' suck. What the FUCK am I doing?", being able to just open a tab of Movable Type, blurt out a bunch of ramble and then move on is WONDERFUL. And it's because I know this writing is just for fun, I don't get all blocked, and I don't worry about whether or not this post is good enough for publishing, and I don't try to write about things other people will find interesting and I don't try to impress people. I write as if no one was reading. Ahaahaha. That's a lie.

Sigh. Sometimes I do, anyway. Mostly I treat this as a chance to work through an idea I've had. That's where all that dance stuff comes from - I have to articulate these ideas, and goddess knows I don't see another postgrad/person-formerly-known-as-postgrad from one semester to another, so I need to do this this way. It's a really useful process for me - creative, constructive, low-stress.

I could, I suppose, just write all this in a file and leave it on my desktop. Or I could keep a proper journal. But when I'm writing here on the internet, I feel like I'm writing as if there could, one day, be someone reading this. Not many someones - maybe just two, if I'm lucky. One of those will be The Squeeze, out of duty. And the other will be another googler looking for pictures of Dennis the Menace. So I have to try, at some level, to explain my idea. Or to write as if I was writing an explanation.

I think I've contradicted myself here quite a bit. Ah, fuck it.

But here are a couple of things I wanted to write about, in regards to this whole Golden Blogs thing (you know, I'm actually having real trouble writing today. It's fucking hot, I'm sitting here riddled with hormones and trying not to think about the paper I'm trying to edit).

Mark on LP, using skepticlawyer's comment, pointed out that Tim Blair doesn't like 'I' in blog entries.

I can't fathom that. Nor can I go on to read the comments in that Tim Blair post - play nice, kiddies.
That sort of action is the reason I don't like to read conservative blogs. Blogging is meant to be fun (and blogging = writing blogs, reading blogs, posting on blogs, receiving posts on one's own blog), and I really don't need to read that rubbish. Head in the sand? Up my own arse more like - I prefer my own company to hanging out with meanies.
I don't really understand how these doods can on one hand revile the use of 'I' and personal anecdotes on a blog, and yet also hoe in with incredibly aggressive personal attacks (mostly in comments it seems - I guess comments are the 'less formal' bit of blogging, huh?). It seems a bit contradictory to me.

I wonder if, perhaps, this insistence on no-I-word and less-on the 'personal' stuff is a manifestation of the idea that we should keep personal stuff out of the public sphere?* That the private should be private, and the public... I was going to make a joke about public assets and Telstra but can't. It's too hot.
This whole issue strikes me as odd, as blogging seems one of the most personal spaces or modes of address or whatever (look, it's frickin' hot, ok?) on the internet. If we remember the roots of blogging, we're talking home pages. Home pages.

The Squeeze is reading Where Wizards Stay Up Late: the Origins of the Internet, which contains this little gem:

Rumours had persisted for years that the ARPANET had been built to protect national security in the face of a nuclear attach. It was a myth that had gone unchallenged long enough to become widely accepted as fact. Taylor had been the young director of the office withn the Defense Department's ADvanced Research Projects Agency overseeing computer research, and he was the one who had started the ARPANET. The project had embodied the most peaceful intentions - to link computers at scientific laboratories across the country so that researchers might share computer resources. Taylor knew the ARPANET and its progeny, the Internet, had nothing to do with supporting or surviving war - never did...
Lately, the mainstream press had picked up the grim myth of a nuclear survival scenario and had presented it as an established truth.
I'm not sure how reliable this book is (though it seems better than most of the bios of the internet and computing getting about), but this point really caught my interest. I'd only ever heard the story where the internet had been invented as a way of localising US military computer resources and information, so as to avoid complete obliteration if one, centralised site was hit by cold war missiles. This alternative story really warmed my spirit ( :D ). It's so much nicer to think of the internet as doing what we bloggers do with it - share stories of our everyday. So my everyday doesn't include much talk about electronic switches and mainframes and hardware (so to speak), but it does have a whole bunch of fairly specific knowledge and practice which I can't really share with every person in my life. It's pretty specific stuff, and the internet gets me in contact with other people who share that particular discourse. And what could be nicer than finding a bunch of like-minded people with whom to share this stuff?

So the internet's very purpose was to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and individual people's social networking. Basically, the internet was designed for nerds to talk crap. Right on!

With that in mind, as Jeff Beck points out in a gentle observation about the Golden Blogs,

A few of the posts are worth reading but most are tedious, self-indulgent bullshit from self-important lefty academics. If this is the best the blogosphere has to offer, it's fucked.

And that's entirely the sort of sex I like. Really, we don't use the word 'blog' for nothing: long and boring. It's nice that people have high hopes for the internet (I, too, like to think that somewhere out there someone is tapping out a ream of Great Art or Important Contribution), but I think it's ever so much more interesting to think of all the ordinary things people are doing with the internet out there in their bedrooms and studies and workplaces and classrooms and loungerooms. And it seems a bit silly to me to pretend that the internet has no domestic or private or everyday elements, when it is being made on people's laps on couches all over the world (or desks or kitchen tables or wherever). Though, it could be fun to imagine, just for a minute, that I'm wearing a suit and glasses, my brow furrowed with concentration and Serious Thoughts, rather than sitting here in front of the fan in my bedroom doing a little nuddy typing and considering running to the fridge for snack before I cruise Youtube for more hawt lindy prn.

So I guess I do have one problem with the Golden Blogs. When I read, for example, ducky's entry in Online Opinion, I was struck by the way reading this post out of context stripped so much of the meaning out of it for me. When I first read that post on duck's blog, I'd been wondering where she'd been for a while. I'd been reading her blog for a while, sucking up the bits of her life she put online. For me, ducky's story meant more as a chapter in her ongoing blog/life than as an isolated moment re-contextualised in an awards series. When I first read it, I teared up and suddenly wanted to do something for ducky, even though I don't know her, have never seen her, and would probably have felt really strange talking about this with her in person then. The first sentence,

Some of you may be wondering why I haven't been writing more about progress on my letterpress project and my arts grant.
which Tim Blair picks out as his special favourite in a list of 'dreaded I's' means so much more when you have been keeping in touch with ducky over the past year or so. We'd read about her grant and been pleased and excited for her (yet also understanding the new challenges of the project). We understood that she was a big printing nerd and thought letterpress(es?) were the best things since sliced bread. For us, to not hear about a bit of ink-and-tickle was an indication that something was amiss. Or that, perhaps, there were other more important things going on in her life.
I think that Tim Blair has missed the point with this derision - he hasn't understood that ducky was pointing out that her everday life had been interrupted, that the sorts of things that consumed her everyday had recently been pushed aside. That suddenly printing wasn't at the fore of her mind, and her priorities had shifted.
It worries me that Tim Blair might be so profoundly lacking in empathy that he could read duck's entry and not see it as an important bit of writing about something very important to duck, and through their assocation with her through her writing, to duck's readers and online friends.

But then, thinking about it, I wonder if this sort of response was encouraged by the out-of-context-ness of duck's post on Online Opinion. I remember being moved by the everyday language of the entry when I first read it. I was far more affected by her 'normal' tone than I would have been by wailing and gnashing of teeth. When she wrote

Lying on a bed crying just feels like I'm indulging myself too much. I know, go figure. It's not like I don't indulge myself in other ways.
On the one hand I thought, 'you silly - of course it's not being too indulgent', but on the other, I thought 'I know what she means'.
I had this feeling that she was somehow kind of suspended in that space where you move between uncontrollable crying, where you just don't have that conscious control of your mind and body - it's like the emotion and the sheer physical experience of that emotion have opened up a clearway to the rest of the world. You wouldn't normally shed a tear in public, but you suddenly find yourself with snot and tears all over your face. You'd normally try to keep it together for the sake of your family who are also worried. So lying on a bed crying does feel like indulgence.

Because I had been reading her blog for a while, I was most moved by her bravery and trying to keep it together, but then I was really touched by this bit:

Actually, I'm telling this tale at this point in time because tomorrow morning at 10.00am I'm going under the knife to get Wellsley Giblet (see, we'd nicknamed it already!) scraped out.* And I'm scared. I want lots of blog-reading good vibes to steady that surgeon's hand and keep me safe. Last time a stupid doctor perforated me three times, and I bled for two months. This is a different hospital, a more experienced doctor, but the same soft mutant fibroid-filled womb. It should only be a day-visit, and I should feel better in a day or two. If all goes well.

Wish me luck.

. It's the way duck moved from bravery and clever writing and a touch of humour to suddenly admitting - I'm afraid. I'm afraid of being hurt, of things out of my control. And I just want you wish me good luck.
And I don't know about the rest of the people reading duck's blog, but I was wishing her all the good luck, hoping someone would hold her hand and tell her it was all going to be ok. Reading the comments on her original blog entry, you can see that I wasn't the only one. But when you read the entry out of context, you don't see all that rallying-round. All the people holding hands for duck and thinking of her. Not in the sort of in-your-face way we would have in person, but in the more manageable way the internet does it.
And when you're reading that post on the Online Opinion site, you don't see the 'textbreak's duck inserted through her original post, which I read as big breaths, or clear pauses, or literally, breaks in the text. And the fact that duck is a printer, who is all about the mechanics of words on papers, a text break, in her font, lent weight to the pause. Then, of course, when you're just reading that one post on OO, and you haven't been reading duck's blog, you're not reminded of the follow-up post, and this line, that stuck in my memory:
To his absolute credit, there is no pressure from BB's side. He and Bumblebee have been seriously scared on both these occasions (more so last time) and they keep insisting that it's totally my choice whether I want to go through it again.

This bit sticks with me because it so nicely sums up the complexities of wanting children, not wanting children, having a child whom you love and adore, a partner who loves and adores you, and perhaps most importantly, a child who loves and adores you as well. I think I was most moved by the BBs' worry. I don't know where they stand on duck's resolving all those issues of body and work and motherhood. But they've definitely got duck's back.

That whole follow up post, with the discussion of having children, when to have them, how to have them, the physical experiences of pregnancy and all of that - all of that is what goes in to deciding when and whether to have a child. Abortion and contraception and children and bodily health are all things that pop up a lot in the blogs, and in the month following duck's post there's been a few posts about motherhood by women who read duck's blog.

That sort of trickle-on effect of a really good blog post can't be indicated or measured in blog awards thingy which cannot map the temporal (as well as 'spatial') relationships between individual blog posts, posts on a single blog, posts cross-posted between blogs, between blogs, between blog authors, and so on and so on.

All of that talk about ampersand duck's post has suddenly made me feel uncomfortable - I don't know if I like taking apart 'someone' and their feelings like that, and I guess that's the kernel of my argument: this is emotional and personal, domestic and private writing. Blogging isn't always, but when it's part of your everyday, when you engage with it by commenting and writing your own posts as well as reading (not to mention the emailing and snail mailing and face to face catch ups), it's not just words on the internet. So why should it always be calm and cool and detached? Why shouldn't I be in the words as well?
I'm not saying that everything we write or read on the internet should be emotionally loaded. Sometimes it's nice to read or write a bit of cleverly cool and detached academic writing or a bit of well-crafted mass media. But social networks are complicated. We don't ever leave our own persons behind when we write or read. We are always there, there is always a body in the net (to quote Katie Argyle and Rob Shields**). So why pretend that there's not?

*I can't be bothered revisiting Nancy Fraser and the feminist stuff on the public sphere, so just imagine I did, ok?

**Argyle, Katie, and Rob Shields. "Is There a Body in the Net?" Cultures of Internet. Ed. Rob Shields. London: Sage, 1996. 58 - 69.
Tim Blair didn't think there were enough links in the winning OO blog entries. Does citation like this count? What is the importance of linking? Is it citing sources? Or would he like to see more text on cats? If he was a lindy hopper, I just know he'd like to see more of this hawt shit.

"probably too long and definitely unfocussed" was posted by dogpossum on January 17, 2007 10:50 AM in the category clicky

quick film recommendation


We went to see The Prestige at the Astor (a double session! What excellentness!) and it was GREAT. I mean, it was AMAZINGLY GREAT. If you can get to this before it goes off the cinema (good luck), do so immediately - it's really worth it for the mood of a big screen. And this film is all about spectacle, so it's worth it.

Will write more when I have more time.

"quick film recommendation" was posted by dogpossum on January 17, 2007 10:10 AM in the category fillums

January 16, 2007

herrang is not for babies

"herrang is not for babies" was posted by dogpossum on January 16, 2007 11:16 AM in the category lindy hop and other dances

January 15, 2007

in the spirit of cute

I found this excellent image on cute overload...
I'm not sure if I love it or am disturbed by it.
In fact, it gets weirder when you look at it out of context.

"in the spirit of cute" was posted by dogpossum on January 15, 2007 10:44 PM in the category coooteeewooteee

more gratuitous lindy

Check that out - that's Sugar Sullivan and Peter Loggins doing the stops routine. Sugar rocks. Peter is nuts. Their classes were favourite.

More Sugar and Peter goodness.

And Sugar in the 50s:

"more gratuitous lindy" was posted by dogpossum on January 15, 2007 5:06 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

monster rabbits

Remember this fuzzer?

Apparently he's become a bit of an international celebrity. The breeder, not the bunny.

An east German pensioner who breeds rabbits the size of dogs has been asked by North Korea to help set up a big bunny farm to alleviate food shortages in the communist country. Now journalists and rabbit gourmets from around the world are thumping at his door.

Read the entire article here.

I can't imagine an 8 kilo bunny. That's fricking HUGE.

"monster rabbits" was posted by dogpossum on January 15, 2007 9:27 AM in the category coooteeewooteee and fewd

January 12, 2007

round up

Just in case you were wondering why I'd suddenly gone all boring...

I've been very busy writing a paper for a media convergence collection/special ed of a journal/thingy. So I am making a really crappy rough draft at the moment. Soon it will be beautiful, but before it's beautiful, the editing will be horrible. I really enjoy writing (when I'm not all blocked) and write very quickly, so I feel like I'm accomplishing. I do not, however, write good first drafts - I need to edit and edit and edit and edit to make it look nice.

This paper, briefly, is about the AV stuff in my thesis. I've added on a nice bit about youtube, which was very exciting - youtube has made major changes in the world of online dance clips, and the whole 'free' and 'easily accessed' thing, as well as embedding clips in blogs and the sheer, wonderful quantity of obscure footage uploaded to the site make it a fabulous resource for dancers. It's also made some interesting changes in the economy of clip exchange in the swinguverse (to a certain extent). I've added a bit about the Silver Shadows stuff I wrote about in this entry, as it makes for a really nice example of the sorts of things I'm talking about. Not to mention the whole convergence thing.

I still haven't done the 'guest' post. But at least I've had some ideas. Once I've gotten this convergence paper done, I'm going to write something about radio and swing dancers. Now there's a bit of convergent action. I'm especially interested in the way the Yehoodi Talk Show used video podcasting (a visual element to its radio podcast) in the last edition. That's some awesome shit. Especially as they spent a fair bit of that podcast watching video clips they'd found on youtube, google movies, etc. Talk about nice timing. It all flows on nicely from my stuff on DJing and uses of sound/audio technology there.

I actually had a paper in the latest edition of Continuum if you're interested in reading some of the sort of work I'm doing. It's actually a refereed paper from the CSAA conference-before-last and I'm not actually convinced it's much good. I know I've written better. Hopefully this paper I'm doing now will be nicer.

...ok, so the other thing I've been doing is working on this. It's still looking fairly crap, but I do like the way it's going. I've not tested it in anything other than Safari (bad me), so if you're using Internet Exploder - sucked in! I doubt I'll ever actually do anything with this site once it's done (despite it's fairly high hits when I was running it more regularly), but I do like a bit of focussed web design. Viva la css!

Anyway, doing a little work on that this afternoon (paper in the morning, coding in the afternoon, then a mandatory tranky doo break in the late afternoon), I came across this thing on aural style sheets in the W3 website.
It caught my attention as I'd recently read Barista's entry on deafness stuff and my interest was caught. I'd read another comment on Barista's blog a while back about accessability, and I guess it's just been percolating in there for a while. I'm a bit strict about accessability (to a certain extent) because living with The Squeeze has made me aware of things like colours and how underlining links all the time is actually very important for colour blind people. Or even people who see colours in different ways.*

So the thought of styling websites to make them more accessible for people who use screen readers...!
I will read more about it and report back later. Meanwhile, if you know anything about this or have any ideas, points, please do drop them in the comments.

*The Squeeze actually bypasses all this shit by just reading the internet on his feedreader. Except when he's looking at photos.

"round up" was posted by dogpossum on January 12, 2007 4:10 PM in the category academia and article ideas and lindy hop and other dances and webbing

January 5, 2007

it's difficult to not think 'oh, this Basie song would be good here'

It's always difficult DJing for a crowd of lindy hoppers on a very hot night in a very hot room. Especially when they're Melbournians, who tend to forget how to deal with hot weather, even though we have really hot summers. I think it's all the rain and wind and cold in the winter.

But last night I was up for the first set, and over the course of yesterday revised my loose plans for the set. I had a quick look through my slower stuff - I knew I wouldn't get terribly high bpms - but reminded myself of my favourite highenergy, fun slower stuff. Just because you're playing slower music, don't mean you should let the dancers get too lethargic. My goal was to keep the energy up so the dancers continually felt like they really wanted to dance fast and crazy. I wanted to build them up gradually, kind using the smaller wave idea, not only in terms of tempo (where you move from slower to medium to faster stuff in a general progression) but also in terms of mood (where you build up the energy and excitement, then quieten it down, progressively). But at the same time as I was working on these shorter waves, I also wanted to work on a broader, 'big picture' type wave, where I was gradually working up the energy in the room, even though I was giving them rests with the down parts of the mini-waves. It worked quite well, I think.

This was the first set, as I've said, and that means that the crowd was largely beginners from the class (though not super-beginners - more people with some lindy who're loving dancing, but can't quite hack mega tempos or really complicated melodies and rhythms yet). The more experienced dancers came in about a third of the way through the set, and that always builds the energy in the room, in part because their example invigorates the newer dancers watching them, but also because they really use the music (meaning, they're beyond just thinking 'move-move-move' and can build in extra responses to the music within a move). Newer dancers can hear this stuff, but they don't often have the physical ability to make this feeling flesh).

I do find, though (unfortunately) that the newer dancers tend to cede the floor to the more advanced dancers as they feel a bit intimidated. I guess that's one aspect of a scene with more advanced dancers, but it's also one of the less pleasant parts of the Melbourne scene - there's a very clear heirarchy enforced by the system of performance troups, competitions, teaching cadetships and teaching roles, and of course, the supporting emails, websites and other assorted media and discourse. Nor do many of those more experienced dancers work to undo that heirarchy by asking newer people to dance.

So you can see on the set list below that the more experienced dancers came in at about Everyday I have the Blues.

There were a couple of eggs in there - If it don't fit don't force it just sounded shit on the sound system. CBD sucks arse - all my piano-only or sparser arrangements end up sounding like shit. It has to have a big, full orchestra to fill the room. I do not know why - I try to fix it with the levels, but that doesn't work. I guess I need to get onto the whole equaliser thing, but...

I really wanted to play a bit of Jay McShann after I'm just a ladies' man man by Witherspoon, because I liked the way Witherspoon's dirtiness responded to Barrel House Annie's crudeness, and because they're both kind of solid, uptempo blues tracks - good stompin' dancing fun. Witherspoon also got his start singing with McShann's band, so it seemed appropriate. I did want to play a bit more McShann, as he passed away recently, but the little section kind of faltered with the poor quality. I'm just a ladies' man did go down really well, though.

I pulled a few stunts during this set... stunts, as in DJing tricks. I played some old favourites, speckled through the set. These included Blues in hoss's flat which we haven't heard in a while, and which was overplayed earlier this year (mostly by me), Shout Sister Shout (whose unnoticed vulgarity and double entendre work really pleases me and seemed a good lead in to If it don't fit), Be Careful (even if you can't be good) which was me having a joke with myself - it's an old favourite, I regard it as a 'safety' song as it's good quality, is good, easy dancing (and has some nice musically bits), but I really like the synchronicity of the lyrics ("be careful... even if you can't be good). This track is also edging into jump blues/early rock n roll in 1951, which kind of worked as a musical progression from the styles of the previous songs (a sort of timeline of the development of blues to rock n roll) - a point only a supernerd DJ would care about, but which actually works really well with dancers, as it leads them naturally between styles, rather than sort of dumping a nasty stylistic shift on them.
I wanted to get to Six Appeal, which is a Campus Five song I'm busily overplaying, and have noticed goes down really with dancers, and figured Shoo Fly Pie (another song riddled with overlooked inuendo) was a nice step. I had toyed with playing the Campus Five version of Why don't you do right (the 'Jessica Rabbit song'), but that's too low a tempo and kind of kills it. Six appeal is more fun anyway.

I really like the way Campus Five play that older, echoes-of-Orleans style in Six Appeal - I think it's the trumpet and the clarinet that make me think this way. Plus the odd bit of interesting percussion/drum work. From here the obvious choice seemed Bechet - he's got that revivalist trad jazz sound that still swings. And Blues my naughty sweetie gives to me is very popular with Melbournians today so I figured it was a good choice.

From there, I had to play Joshua fit de battle of jericho as it really develops that New Orleans sound, and I really like that combination of songs. I like the way Blues my naughty sweetie works the crowd up, energy-wise with the stompy piano/base, but adds in a bit of sauciness with the trumpet (no, it's not Louis Armstrong, though I always think it is). This song is great. It kind of feels like Western saloon honky tonk, but with a bit of saucy (and terribly cool) bluesy swing to give it a sense of humour. When the clarinet comes in (it could be a sax - I can't be arsed checking), its work with the trumpet really lets you know where the naughty is at.

And Joshua really takes up the energy blues my naughty sweetie has been gradually building up and works it up a level - kind of the climax, really. Though it depends on the crowd. This combination of songs has gone arse up for me in the past, but the mellow tempos and the general vibe was working with me - I think the Campus Five got people in the mood, in a less confronting, twenty first century way, which made people more amenable to the quite-in-your-face yelling and shouting and almost unswingness of Joshua.

I'm generally not a big fan of Jesus songs (I do not like Wade in the water, for example) but Joshua seems a little more irreverent - I think funeral march rather than baptism. Kind of the way Lavender Coffin (another crowd pleaser I dropped in earlier to score cheap points) does. It's about death and martyrs and saints and the bible, but in an old testament way. Kind of gloriously bloody, and with a bit of gospel-as-used-by-African-American slaves - a bit of tactical resistance from within an institution, where you know dark humour is the flip side of that slap stick clowning for the white folks.

Of course, Jericho has some sweet trumpet and clarinet as well. And you really feel like stomping along with this song - it has a nice, stompy rhythm. The 'improvised' bit at the end feels nicely chaotic and wild, but still purposeful and organised (if that makes sense).

And then I rounded it off with Ridin' on the L&N, which I love dearly - I love the lyrics in these Hampton track (fuck, I LOVE Hamp more than anything - no one does stompy, going somewhere rhythms like him):

A man named Mose,
With (was?) a great big nose,
Was sleepin' on a pile of clothes,
Conductor came and rang the bell,
The porter hollered 'well well well'

I'm riding,
Riding on the L & N
Ain't jivin'
Riding on the L & N
So long!

I did play this song particularly for a couple of balboa nuts I saw just getting into their groove with Jericho, and I know this song goes down well with balboa doods. That wide-handed piano and driving rhythm pleases them. I had considered Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, the version by the Goodman small group (which features Hamp as well) with Martha Tilton, but that's a little light and tinkly and I was getting a bit of a stompy groove on.
Basically, I wanted something with that 'building up' feeling, to work on the existing energy, but not a crazy all-out speeding lindy hop track. It was too hot, and I didn't want the dancers spent on a track just before the end of my set - I wanted them all hot and ready and worked up.

Savoy Blues brought the tempos down again, but got all the less experienced (and post-christmas indulgant types) back onto the floor. It's a song that's kind of getting pretty popular, I love it (Kid Ory again, though a later period I think (at least a later feel - I don't have the date for that song unfortunately)), and it kept up that stompy move yo ass! feel.

People were pretty much going nuts in that last bracket, which was impressive, as they'd not been able to hack a lot of pounding earlier on in the set.
That version of Splanky was a birthday dance, and was right for the people dancing in the circle.

Overall, it was nice to work from the enthusiastic newer dancers to the old sticks who can be much pickier, but can like a wider range of tempos and styles (if I'm lucky - depending on the crowd). Those newer doods just love to dance, and for whom I like to play some of the old faves, or play the better quality stuff so they can really hear swinging jazz at its best.
[rant] I do not, at all, in any way, subscribe to the idea that we should play neo swing for new dancers. That stuff sucks arse for dancing, doesn't swing at all, and encourages bad dancing habits. It's technically pretty poor musicianship (for the most part), and I refuse to add any to my collection. Beyond that, it's more the case that people take up swing dancing for swing music and the influence of people like Jamie Cullen and (sigh) Robbie Williams than Royal Crown Revue or Cherry Poppin' Daddies.[/rant]

I began with the Campus Five because I quite like that song, I needed something hifi and safe to test the set up before I got hardcore, and because it feels like the band are kind of 'testing' a melody, over a solid, obvious beat - good stuff for a warm up dance. I played Jump Ditty then because I'm very fond of it, even though I suspect that cooler types than I think it's naff. And it always goes down well with a crowd of newer dancers - it feels like fun. The lyrics are a good thing - I've found that dropping in vocals is a good idea with newer dancers.

I played Massachussetts because it feels really swingy and gets me in the mood for dancing - Maxine really swings, and yet the rhythm is really clear and swingingly nice. It's a nice bridge between the groovy and the solidly swinging old school. The musicians are top notch, and as a smaller combo, you can really appreciate each instrument individually. Unfortunately, everything on this album sounds like shit at CBD - all base and treble. Even when I up the mids. I think this is indicative of the problems with CBD generally - you lose definition in the middle range. And it SUCKS. I will work on learning how to fix it.

I like B Sharp Boston a whole lot, hi fi Ellington, feels like it's going somewhere, kind of sassy. Still a good warm up song (ie not too challenging or fast or scary), but really great, musically. Blip Blip was a crowd-pleaser, and because I was thinking of Ellington (he did a great original version with Ray Nance on vocals before this Ella one). Slip of the lip sounded like arse - same problem of too much high, lows... but I think it's indicative of many of the Ellington recordings I have from this period, only made worse by CBD's system. It's a shame as it's a really fun song. Too fast for that crowd in that temperature at that time of night, though. So I went back to hifi (a safety strategy), with the wonderful Jive at Five, then thought I'd follow with a Basie track by a big band other than Basie's orchestra. Which was a good thing, as I then played two Basie tracks in a row - two very safe, crowd-pleasing favourites.
But really, Basie makes for such great dancing music, it's difficult to not think 'oh, this Basie song would be good here' - his stuff is so varied, so swingingly great for dancing.

After all that DJing, I tried to dance like a fool, but the temperature, post-christmas fatness and unfitness and so on prevented. Needless to say, riding home was difficult.

Fuck it was hot yesterday (and my laptop is burning my legs now!)

Oomph Fa Fa - Jonathan Stout And His Campus Five- 129 - 2003 - Jammin' the Blues
Jump Ditty! - Joe Carroll and The Ray Bryant Quintet - 134 - Red Kat Swing 1
Massachusetts - Maxine Sullivan - 144 - 2006 - A Tribute To Andy Razaf
B-Sharp Boston - Duke Ellington and His Orchestra - 126 - 1949 - Duke Ellington and his Orchestra: 1949-1950
Bli-Blip - Ella Fitzgerald - 132 - 1956 - Ella Fitzgerald Day Dream: Best Of The Duke Ellington Songbook
A Slip Of The Lip - Duke Ellington with Ray Nance - 150 - 1942 - The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 13)
Jive At Five - Count Basie and His Orchestra - 147 - 1960 - The Count Basie Story (Disc 1)
Easy Does It - Big 18
Every Day I Have The Blues - Count Basie - 116 - 1959 - Breakfast Dance And Barbecue
Blues In Hoss' Flat - Count Basie - 142 - 1995 - Big Band Renaissance Disc 1
Walk 'Em - Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra - 131 - 1946 - Walk 'Em
Back Room Romp - Duke Ellington and his Orchestra - 155 - 2000 - Ken Burns Jazz: Duke Ellington
Lavender Coffin - Lionel Hampton, etc - 138 - 1949 - Lionel Hampton Story 4: Midnight Sun
Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra - 130 - 1949 - Lionel Hampton Story 4: Midnight Sun
Le Jazz Hot - Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra - 144 - 1939 - Lunceford Special 1939-40
Shout, Sister, Shout - Lucky Millinder - 140 - Apollo Jump
If It Don't Fit (Don't Force It) - Barrel House Annie - 148 - 1937 - Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts and Lollypops
I'm Just A Lady's Man - Jimmy Witherspoon - 144 - 2002 - Goin' Around In Circles
Be Careful (If You Can't Be Good) - Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra - 121 - 1951 - Walk 'Em
Shoo Fly Pie - June Christy - 128 - Red Kat Swing 1
Six Appeal - Jonathan Stout And His Campus Five - 141 - 2004 - Crazy Rhythm
Blues My Naughty Sweetie - Sidney Bechet - 140 - 1951 - The Blue Note Years
Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho - Kid Ory And His Creole Jazz Band - 160 - 1946 - Kid Ory and his Creole Jazz Band 1944-46
Ridin' On The L&N - Lionel Hampton and His Quartet- 170 - 1946 - Lionel Hampton Story 3: Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop
Savoy Blues - Kid Ory - 134 - 2002 - Golden Greats: Greatest Dixieland Jazz Disc 3
Splanky - Count Basie - 125 - 1957 - Complete Atomic Basie, the

"it's difficult to not think 'oh, this Basie song would be good here'" was posted by dogpossum on January 5, 2007 4:05 PM in the category djing

January 3, 2007

because I am a giant dance nerd...

...I'm also posting this clip of Frida and Skye dancing at the ALHC (American Lindy Hop Championships - a very 'proper' dance comp and nothing like the ULHS and other comps I've blogged before).
I am very behind - it's a 2005 clip, and look, we're all in 2007 now!

This is some awesome dancing - it looks unchoreographed, and really displays Skye's unusual personality - he and Frida are one scary combination. Scary in an entirely un G-rated way.

"because I am a giant dance nerd..." was posted by dogpossum on January 3, 2007 4:43 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

the cranky poo

I can now do all this part of the (renamed by The Squeeze in light of recent displays of dancing ineptitude in our house) Cranky Poo:

Well, the whole first 40 seconds of that routine. Then I get confused (it's not really my fault - we didn't have the timing solid for the next section when we were learning it). I'm also suspecting that Mike is a bit too ahead of himself in that clip and this one with the amazing Frida:

Now, I could be wrong on Mike's timing (most probably, considering my wonderful work learning this routine to date), but...
Having said that, he does have lovely arms, and lovely, big movements.

My admiration for this young man is, of course, entirely G-rated.

"the cranky poo" was posted by dogpossum on January 3, 2007 4:25 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

January 2, 2007

once i've learnt something, it sticks

I am having a lovely time tappa tapping here at the computer, but there's a knot of anxiety deep in my belly. It's the 'I should be working on my thesis not screwing around on the internet' anxiety.
Talk about learnt habits dying hard...

I should be writing articles, but really... there's no rush.

I also have a bunch of fabric calling out for me to go sew (you should SEE it - there's some really pretty stuff there).
And I should pop up to the shops to do a bit of grocery shopping.
And I really should think about the set I'm doing on Thursday night (I amn't DJing as regularly as I was, so I need to practice every now and then to keep my music fresh in my mind).
And we spent some time working on that Tranky Doo yesterday afternoon, so I should put some effort into learning it (I was, as predicted, the slowest learner. And I'm so unfit I really couldn't hack the pace. But I will get better - and once I've learnt something, it sticks. I hope).

But, you know - that internet, she is like a black hole. And what's my rush?

"once i've learnt something, it sticks" was posted by dogpossum on January 2, 2007 12:49 PM in the category domesticity

tappa tappa = the sound of someone blogging at speed

eniac4small.gifThe Squeeze sent me something interesting in an email - links to these fab photos on this page of historic computer images. I don't know anything about these photos as I haven't taken the time to research, but I thought they'd appeal to the Sisters who dig the tappa-tappa keyboard action.

The bit of text that goes with that photo reads:

Two women wiring the right side of the ENIAC with a new program, in the "pre- von Neumann" days. "U.S. Army Photo" from the archives of the ARL Technical Library. Standing: Ester Gerston Crouching: Gloria Ruth Gorden

Here's another neat photo:

That's the one The Squeeze sent first, but I'm not sure I like it as much as the other - feels like these ladies are there just to look pretty... or are they? Judging by the dress, these look like ladies from the 40s or 50s. If we'd been talking mid WWII, then these ladies could have been actively involved in creating these first computer bits. Heck, I am just plain old guessing... I think I need more information. I think we need The Squeeze (who has a fetish for computer history) to tell us more.
...and its caption

"U.S. Army Photo", number 163-12-62. Left: Patsy Simmers, holding ENIAC board Next: Mrs. Gail Taylor, holding EDVAC board Next: Mrs. Milly Beck, holding ORDVAC board Right: Mrs. Norma Stec, holding BRLESC-I board

pdp11,70.jpgBut I suspect that Mz Tartan, who has just bought a house, would perhaps prefer these images.

U.S. Army Photo, courtesy of Michael John Muuss PDP-11/70, Vector General display of XM-1 tank Left: Michael John Muuss, operating Vector General Right: Earl Weaver, inspecting printout of XM-1 design



Photo of BRL's Cray XMP48 courtesy of Michael John Muuss Right: Phil Dykstra

"tappa tappa = the sound of someone blogging at speed" was posted by dogpossum on January 2, 2007 12:20 PM in the category clicky

underwater mapping

Barista has written a really interesting post here on the history of research into techtonic plates (or more specfically, on Marie Tharp and her work on the subject). This post makes for a really good read, but the line that caught my imagination was the last (bolding is mine):

Despite the fact that the plate tectonics debate spanned fifty years, several languages and many countries, I suspect the battles fought in that house full of maps in South Nyack were some of the fiercest and most personal.

Ironically, they were all wrong. Nowadays, we believe the planet is expanding.

I wish I could string together a few coherent thoughts (I am scarily scatty at the moment - all these half-bits of posts... I promise I'll get it together soon. Ish.), but I can't. But I like the thought - expanding v contracting planet.

"underwater mapping" was posted by dogpossum on January 2, 2007 12:11 PM in the category clicky

January 1, 2007

utterly trivial trivia

I think the best song of 2006 was the Scissor Sisters' I Don't Feel Like Dancin'.

I've just had a little think and can't come up with any other songs that I know that were released in 2006. No, wait. There's that song by the Killers where they're driving in the car, and it's in black and white. And then there's that I Wish I was a punk rock... something... hm. Not sure that was 2006.

Look, so, ok, from a sample size of about five, garnered from a total of one or two mornings' consumption of pop music via rage*, I Don't Feel Like Dancin' was the best song of 2006.

Well, not counting A Viper's Moan by Willie Bryant. Or C-Jam Blues by the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra, the most popular song I DJed in 2006.

I've had the strangest urge to listen to not-jazz today. I've been at a bit of a loss, as all the pop music I have is kind of 1992.
But here are the non-jazz albums I bought this year:


  • Beck's Guero. Which I might have bought last year (well, The Squeeze bought it for me - from a shop, where it was full price! I love Beck - he's one of the very few artists whose albums I always buy, religiously.

  • The Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams [are made of this], my favourite Eurythmics album ever. I used to have a greatest hits video with the film clips from this album on it - I loved them. I used to have a casette of this album which I played over and over til the tape stretched. I loved the weirdness of this album, I loved Annie Lennox in her odd, 'drag queen' outfits. I just loved it. My favourite song might have been I Could Give You (a mirror), though I suspect it was the very-teen Jennifer. The Squeeze bought this CD for me too.

...I was going to add:
blur.jpg but it seems I bought that quite a few years ago.

So I guess I'm not really up on the pop music. :(

Nor do I have any indy cred.
I can hear my twenty year old self groaning in shame. That same self would also be disappointed to hear I no longer shave my head. And that I own some proper running shoes. And no longer wear my docs.

But how many CDs have I bought this year?* Weeeelllll, itunes says it's a lot. And I believe itunes, even after accounting for all the multiple-discs-in-each-album thing.

*and really, need I look beyond rage? I think not. One of my favourite albums of all time is the first rage CD. Apparently there's also a second one, but you can't get it any more. Not that I would - I have always loathed Jeff Buckley, and the mere presence of one of his songs on this album is enough to put me off. Truly. Even if it does have that neat Porno for Pyros song on it.
...actually, I tell a lie. I really really wish I had that second album as well. It looks great. Dang. When was it released? Like, ten years ago or something? Shoot. Being out of the loop sucks.

"utterly trivial trivia" was posted by dogpossum on January 1, 2007 7:37 PM in the category music