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June 6, 2008

Mora's Modern Rhythmists

cd-bundle.jpg In a fit of frivolity the other week I picked up this bundle of four Mora's Modern Rhythmists/Swingtet CDs:

These guys are from the US and specialise in creating 'authentic' recreations of 20s, 30s and 40s dance music (mostly 20s and 30s, really). I'm a big fan. I already had Call of the Freaks and 20th Century Closet, but this 4-pack was too good to pass up (and I've already found someone who wants the doubled up copy of 20th Century Closet, which is (in my opinion), the best). As I said, I really like this group - they're recreating music I really like, which means I have nice quality versions of good songs for playing to crowds who aren't really comfortable with serious scratch. These better quality versions are also a nice way of changing the vibe or lifting the energy in a set without moving away from this nice musical period.

Their latest CD Devil's Serenade reminds me of the Melbourne band The Red Hot Rhythmakers (which we've featured at MLX a few years in a row now) - earlier dance band stuff. Hot and seriously fun.

The Rhythmakers are a good example of the music that's quite cool with some of the younger American dancers atm, especially in places like Seattle. It tends to the super fast and is really quite freakin' good fun. The Rhythmakers have just realised their new CD, actually (the launch was this past Monday). Though I couldn't make the launch, friends have managed to secure copies of the CD for me, which is also very neat. I really like their first one and am looking forward to this one.

Any how, I'm very happy with these Mora CDs - it was a bargain and this stuff is very useful for DJing, even if though I tend to prefer the 'originals' for home listening. These guys are also useful for performances - good quality but also 'authentic' and not bullshit neo rubbish.

"Mora's Modern Rhythmists" was posted by dogpossum on June 6, 2008 4:04 PM in the category digging and djing and music

daily pop


In honour of Frank and the Rathdown Yoga Room....


"daily pop" was posted by dogpossum on June 6, 2008 1:59 PM in the category crafty bastard

maybe i should stick to dancing

Goodness me, I've gotten up late this morning. I played a very ordinary set last night that went down very ordinarily. Here it is:

Froggy Bottom Jimmy Witherspoon With Jay McShann And His Band 155 1957 2:37 5/06/08 10:06 PM Goin' To Kansas City Blues
Blues In Hoss's Flat Count Basie 144 1958 3:13 5/06/08 10:09 PM Chairman Of The Board [Bonus Tracks]
Jump Through The Window Roy Eldridge and his Orchestra 154 1943 2:42 5/06/08 10:12 PM After You've Gone
Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra 135 1945 3:21 5/06/08 10:15 PM Hamp: The Legendary Decca Recordings
Hungry Man Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five 135 1949 3:08 5/06/08 10:18 PM Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five (vol 6)
The Back Room Romp Rex Stewart and His 52nd Street Stompers 152 1937 2:49 5/06/08 10:21 PM The Duke's Men: Small Groups Vol. 1 (Disc 2)
Peckin' Johnny Hodges and His Orchestra 165 1937 3:10 5/06/08 10:24 PM The Duke's Men: Small Groups Vol. 1 (Disc 2)
A Viper's Moan Willie Bryant And His Orchestra 153 1936 3:26 5/06/08 10:28 PM Willie Bryant 1935-1936
Stompy Jones Duke Ellington and His Orchestra 200 1934 3:03 5/06/08 10:31 PM The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 07)
Jive At Five Count Basie 174 1939 2:51 5/06/08 10:34 PM The Complete Decca Recordings (disc 03)
Good Queen Bess Duke Ellington 160 1940 3:00 5/06/08 10:37 PM The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 10)
The Basement Blues Nobel Sissle with Sidney Bechet 153 2000 3:16 5/06/08 10:40 PM Ken Burns Jazz Collection: Sidney Bechet
Krum Elbow Blues Mora's Modern Swingtet 162 2004 2:46 5/06/08 10:43 PM 20th Century Closet
Effervescent Blues Mora's Modern Swingtet 122 2004 3:07 5/06/08 10:46 PM 20th Century Closet
New Orleans Bump Wynton Marsalis 128 1999 4:36 5/06/08 10:50 PM Mr. Jelly Lord - Standard Time, Vol. 6
Charlie's Prelude Mora's Modern Swingtet 128 2004 2:49 19/04/08 7:19 PM 20th Century Closet
Digadoo Firecracker Jazz Band 247 2005 5:20 5/06/08 10:56 PM The Firecracker Jazz Band

All the blues dancers were in town and they were afraid of a) tempos over 120 and b) old music. I think I might actually suck as a DJ, mostly because I just didn't want to play any new groovy rubbish. I just don't have any interest in that stuff any more. Thing is, most of the stuff I really am interested in just goes down like a lead balloon. Sigh. I have to stop playing that 'Froggy Bottom' - it's not good lindy hop.

I'm doing that other set on Sunday - blues - so I hope that goes ok. We'll have to see about that. I've been asked to play 'old school' blues because not many other people will be, but that's not really all that great an idea - after a weekend of groove and soul, old scratchy stuff that's actually higher tempos won't go down well.
I'd like to play some Harlem Hamfats, some early Ellington with Bessie Smith (!!!), some more Bessie Smith, some skanky Kansas doods (Walter Brown with Jay McShann, Big Joe Turner, Juliea Lee, etc), some odd people like Cow Cow Davenport, some dirty chicks like Blu Lu Barker, some rowdy neworleans people like Jelly Roll Morton, some Jimmie Noone (of course!), some Bix Beiderbeck, some Sam Price, Bechet, Wingy Manone, etc etc etc... heck, lots of stuff. Really, just the stuff I'd like to play for lindy hoppers, but slower.
But I find people can't hack the sound quality (especially after a weekend of lovely hi-fi supergroove)...

I like this stuff because it screams 'DANCE BY YOURSELF! DO THOSE JAZZ STEPS, YOU BABY!!!' and it has an edge - it's not so serious, it's dark and quite scary, but it's also winking at you, inviting a bit of black humour...
Well, we'll just have to see. I might end up playing emergency Aretha Franklin and late testament Basie as a compromise.

But I'm not feeling hugely confident in my abilities right now. Maybe I should stick to dancing.

"maybe i should stick to dancing" was posted by dogpossum on June 6, 2008 1:45 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music

June 5, 2008

low level anxiety

I have to write some lectures RIGHT NOW. Stop procrastinating, you! Stop thinking about pop ups!

I have to DJ tonight, but haven't even thought about my music in the two weeks since I last DJed. I'm also doing a blues set on Sunday night, and I certainly haven't thought enough about that lately. So I have to spend some time with my laptop, listening to music.

I have to go to the library to (hopefully, fingers crossed) find a nice reading on advertising, from a cultural studies or media studies perspective, which involves or at least refers to semiotics and 'ideology', as a sort of follow-on from the previous two weeks ('intro textual analysis/semiotics' and 'ideology'). There's a full sick chapter by Johnathon Bignall from Media Semiotics, but I'm using him elsewhere (week on news values, to be precise). Goddamn copryight, goddamn it.
I have a short list of other stuff, but the library is kind of bare this time of year, particularly in Melbourne, where the libraries are full of computers and stoods facebooking on them and decidedly bare of books. Ordinarily, that's fine by me - bring on the ebooks (Goddess bless them). But some of the Olden Days books (as in, the ones from before the 90s) aren't on the internet. So I need the paper ones.
I had to trek all over the universe last week (three universities, 4 libraries) looking for a copy of Thwaites, Davis, et al's Tools for Cultural Studies (in whichever editorial incarnation). I'm not a dumbarse, so I'm pretty sure I didn't stuff up the whole 'using the catalogue' thing, but I'm pretty sure one copy's not enough for a giant university. I ended up buying the latest edition (to replace my collection of photocopies from a very early edition) and it cost me FAR TOO FREAKIN' MUCH. But I know it will be useful, as I've managed to use it nearly every year since I first did my undergraduate degree with messirs Thwaites, Davis et al.

--a short, impassioned digression---
But I did manage to find a copy of Cohen and Young's The Manufacture of News: social problems, deviance and the mass media, which was an absolute nostalgia-thon. Oh, news values, how I love you. How I loved Stuart Hall when we first met. It was love at first skim-read. How I adored that book. I miss those days. When I was all about newspapers and developed mad microfilm skills. When Galtung and Ruge were fully sick and cultural studies was first listed in my wicked kewl book. Sigh. Then they made the internet and it all changed. Goodbye microfilm reader headaches, hello monitor headaches.

I have to buy some groceries. Milk. Bread.

I have to catch up with about half a dozen people I haven't seen lately.

I HAVE TO MAKE POPS! Last night I had pop up dreams. It's just like when I was going through a lol-making frenzy. Disturbed sleep. Decline in existing communication skills, incline in new 'skills'...

Yoga still rocks. I am half moon queen. Not so much with the down dog. I just don't think my arms will ever be straight. I think it's congenital, and no amount of moving my shoulders up my back body and broadening and flattening of my collar bone will work.

And I have a few DVDs out that I need to watch.

So I have a little low level anxiety, and am dealing with it through the time honoured and much maligned process of procrastination. And there is no better source for that than blogging.

"low level anxiety" was posted by dogpossum on June 5, 2008 1:37 PM in the category djing and teaching

he has white whiskers and is large

There is a large, mostly black tom cat who lives in our neighbourhood. He is coloured exactly the same way as Silvester. He's large, he's slinky and he's kind of a doofus. Every day, from my desk, I see him making the rounds of the neighbourhood. I'm at my desk, not him. He's slinking under cars, pouring himself over fences and swaggering up to passing nannas for a quick pat. He has white whiskers and is large.

"he has white whiskers and is large" was posted by dogpossum on June 5, 2008 1:04 PM in the category domesticity

daily pop


Should I have used a popup image rather than an embedded?


"daily pop" was posted by dogpossum on June 5, 2008 12:24 PM in the category crafty bastard

June 4, 2008

up pop

I am very into pop ups (aka paper engineering). I have been making lots and lots of tiny little prototypes to help me learn the basic techniques and to get a handle on designing pop ups. I have made a few fancier ones, but I really like using small bits of card to make basic two page 'books'. I'll try to take some photos, but don't hold your breath.

Any how, it's freakin' GREAT.

I started with the first book by Carol Barton, which is just the loveliest thing. It includes a heap of basic 'test' cards that you make as you 'read' through the book.

Then I moved on to the Pop-up Book by Paul Jackson, which isn't so great. In fact, it's daunting for complete beginners, and I've only just started getting a handle on it now, after doing a few of my own and working my way through the Barton book. Thing is, they look really simple, but (as the Jackson book points out) it's not too useful just 'thinking' your way through them. You really have to make them to understand how they work. Even then, there are some which I really don't understand - I look at them and think 'how does that work?' Which is part of their appeal.

I'm only doing basic techniques so far - I'm having so much fun I haven't even begun to work on the more complicated combinations. And I'm not really all that interested in the serious paper engineering stuff - no rubber bands or pull tabs for me just yet.

If you're interested, they have some nice books here. I can't imagine a whole book of popups - they're so intricate and time consuming, so labour intensive, meticulous... I like just doing one-off, one-idea visual 'jokes' or 'puns'. Just a card that opens up with a little pop up inside. The smaller the better - they take less time to cut out, they're a good way to test a technique, and you waste fewer materials.

...speaking of materials...

I'd really like a folder. Most of them are bone, but I'm not that picky. I just use the handle of my scissors now, but something specific would be good. I really need it more for scoring, as I just don't have anything useful for that. I'm also planning on upgrading from my $2 cutting mat to a real self-healing mat soon. And perhaps something better than my cheapy scalpel as well. I certainly need proper paper scissors with sharp points. Of all those things, the one I'll probably end up getting is the scissors - sewing has taught me the value of nice scissors. I have good cooking shears, lovely embroidery scissors in a pretty case, arse-kicker sewing scissors, and now it's time to get serious with badass paper scissors.
And of course, card. I just can't get enough of it. I'm still looking for just the right weight. 250gm is too heavy. 80 is too light. I need perhaps 150 or 100. But it's good experimenting with them all, just to see why different weights are good for different jobs.

"up pop" was posted by dogpossum on June 4, 2008 6:56 PM in the category crafty bastard

big, long round up

To celebrate a return to blogdom....

That's some mighty fine balboa right there. Bal is the 'tighty whitey' member of the swing dance family. Seriously popular, seriously cool and absolutely fabulous for really sweet leading and following. There's less 'room' for the follow to improvise (though a decent follow can make it work), but that's really the appeal - the lead has to not only listen to the music and make it work musically for both partners, they also have to be a really good lead to make the whole thing work. 'Pure bal' often refers to the stuff in 'closed' position - no open position here. But 'bal-swing' is often a term used to include all the other stuff going on in a dance like the one above. These terms are (of course) as contentious as you might expect.
I like it, though I rarely dance it. I can lead very little of it, though I really like the challenge. The bal crowd here are really friendly and fun, so it's always nice to hang out. And because bal is a lot less physically intense than lindy hop (though the tempos are frequently super fast) you can wear nice clothes and avoid looking like a drowned rat at the end of the night. Having said that, I sweat like a fool when I'm leading anything so perhaps that comment is misleading.

In other news, I'm busily preparing for another semester of lecturing and tutoring (casual basis of course :( ) and work has long since begun on MLX8: the Exchange of the Living Dead. It's big, it's bold, it'll be beautiful. If you like to dance de lindy hop (or blues or bal or whatever) you'll like this year's MLX. Winter has pretty much arrived here in the 'wick, though it's oscillating between heinous autumn and proper winter, really. Not much rain, over all, which is kind of crap, though it's very misty and foggy and has been pretty bloody cold.

This past weekend I made a nice suit for interviews. It's blue, made of some sort of stretch and has a sort of pale grey cross-hatch type pattern (very small and discrete). The suit itself includes a nice pencil skirt (tres chic, apparently) with a nice buttoned flap feature thing at the front. The skirt was originally just making use of some left over remnants, so it's actually made of six panels - two large front and back pieces and a smaller, narrower rectangular strip down the centre front and back. The feature flap thing was also remnants. The buttons cost about $17 for both skirt and jacket, which is mad as the fabric itself was less than $10 a metre. The jacket is really quite pretty - Simplicity 4412 (pattern B, the green jacket in the bottom right hand corner):
I haven't used contrasting fabric or buttons (just plain blue buttons) and I've folded up the wide sleeves to make three quarter sleeves (which looks a lot better than the big sacky ones in the photo. It's not lined and there aren't any shoulder pads, though the interfacing is quite stiff and the shoulders do fit quite nicely. I've also cut it a bit closer so it fits quite snugly. Overall, it's very 1930s secretary and gives me the right type of curves. I'm very happy with it. I guess I'm going to have to match it with some sort of heel, as the skirt is over the knee and I want to avoid the frump. But I don't think I'll wear it with a shirt under neath as it doesn't really need it. But perhaps a slip would be a good idea for the skirt.

I also returned to yoga a few weeks ago, after a year's break. It was like being a complete bubb all over again. The hardest thing was relearning how to lie still and quiet for 10 minutes. But now I'm back to twice a week and I LOVE IT.

"big, long round up" was posted by dogpossum on June 4, 2008 12:22 PM in the category old sew and sew and teaching and yoga