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August 27, 2008

the circuit

The other night we watched the last couple of episodes of The Circuit. It was some of the best television I've seen in ages. I even teared up.

For those who aren't familiar with the program: it's an SBS miniseries set in 'indigenous Australia'. I use that phrase specifically, partly because 90% of the cast are aboriginal, but also because the physical location - the Kimberly - is absolutely essential to the story and look of the program. But this 'indigenous Australia' is not an homogenous 'nation' - it's a complicated place peopled by a host of different ethnic and cultural groups, and by individuals with their own specific needs, wants and agendas.
The Circuit is interesting for its location, its stories and simply for its presentation of a 'legal drama'. But it's even more interesting for its production: cast and crew were a mix of indigenous and white Australians, the stories were written by indigenous authors. Working and filming with inexperienced crew and cast in geographically remote locations posed particular problems, but also made for stunning visuals.

More prosaically, The Circuit follows a young aboriginal lawyer Drew Ellis as he comes from Perth to work for the Aboriginal Legal Service in Broom for six months. In the very first episode he is established as a child of the stolen generation whose father was taken from his family and disconnected from his land and kin. The program's story is, ultimately, about Drew's traveling towards his own cultural heritage. It's also a story about family and families - the cases heard by the traveling court are almost exclusively domestic stories of domestic violence, property damage and 'cultural fraud'. These aren't stories about white collar crime, but about the ordinary crime of everyday life in a community.
The Circuit tells the story of a traveling court - a magistrate, lawyers and police who travel a 'circuit' of local communities hearing local cases (and I'm reminded of song lines as I type this). As one of the producers notes in the behind the scenes 'extra' on the DVD, The Circuit presents an overwhelming number of cases and people in a very short period of time. There is no time to get to know new cases or clients or stories (not even for the lawyers).

I wasn't entirely sure I liked the program when I first saw the first episode - the acting was patchy and the camera work and editng were a bit wanky. But really enjoyed the last few episodes. For the most part, these were stories about men - about fathers and sons and men negotiating new lives which accommodated both 'traditional' law and Europeam, mainstream Australian law. This law dealt largely with violence - with men's violence towards women and to other men, and with the effects of violence on grown children - men who had been taken from parents, men who had been sexually abused. These men were, for the most part, aboriginal, but not exclusively so.

One of the most touching parts of the story involves Drew's efforts to locate his father's extended family. He's initially and continually unsure of the project - his colleagues and friends encourage him, making the point that it's 'important'. His white wife, while ambivalent, is, essentially, also encouraging. But Drew becomes increasingly reluctant to seek out and make contact with his family. This was the part I found most moving - he was afraid and nervous and excited and afraid again.
circ3.jpg As a middle class city boy moving to the bush, he was confronted by the social reality of aboriginal communities in the region, understandably challenged by the crime and violence and effects of white invasion. But he was also tempted and seduced by the importance of family in the lives of his aboriginal friends - Bella's large, welcoming family; Sam's place within a complicated network of family and friends. I really liked the way Drew's mixed feelings were dealt with in the story - he obviously wanted, quite desperately, to find a place in this extended community. But he was also afraid of what he might find and what it might mean to dig in deep and commit himself to staying and living in the region. When he asks Sam to explain the exact terms of his relationship to recently discovered 'cousins', he's obviously attempting to map, precisely, his place in this family, his role and responsibilities. But Sam repeats: "They're cousins on your dad's side," and that's enough - clearer definitions of exact genetic relationships aren't important. What is important is that he belongs to 'that mob' and that they belong to him.

I think it's this point of reciprocity that was most moving. An older man, Jack, sees Drew at a trial in a remote community and mentions "I knew your grandmother's family". Drew is confused, stunned, unsure: could finding his father's stolen family simply be as simple as being 'seen' out in the community by a member of this extended network? He asks his friend Sam for his advice: "He reckons he knows my family," and his friend encourages him to seek them out. From here, Drew begins to both seek out and avoid learning more. The part I liked the most, though, was the way that Jack decides that he won't let Drew disappear. Jack turns up again, later, at another court session. Drew asks him what he's doing there: "I'm waiting." He's obviously waiting for the younger Drew to be ready to explore his family. To be ready to take on the emotional weight. To be ready to commit to the broader community of the region as a lawyer, as a man, and as a member of a family. The Jack follows Drew back to Broome, and eventually Drew decides that he'll commit to another six months in Broome with the ALS, and more importantly, to seeking out his family.

The part of all this that I really liked was the older man's patience. He didn't badger or attempt to bully Drew into coming back with him to meet his family. He didn't argue or attempt to convince him. He just waited until Drew was ready. Sure, it was an awesome display of passive aggressive manipulation, but more importantly, this older man's waiting and simply being visible and present in the life of a younger man who lacked connections with family and elders was a key part of the narrative generally. This is played out in Sam's relationship with his estranged teenaged son. Sam ultimately chooses to reenter his son's (and wife's) life, and spends hours one night waiting for the son's drunken anger to wear down so he reestablish himself as a father.

I liked this emphasis on patience and waiting. I liked the way it wasn't a story filled with ranting, American style exposition. There was a lot of quiet patience, younger men being waited for, and older men learning to wait. I also liked the way Drew's story wasn't just one his father being 'stolen' and then 'lost', beyond the reach of his family. I liked the way it wasn't a story just of a man returning to his country to find his people. I liked the way it was a story of a family and a people - a community refusing to let children be lost. I liked the way this older man took on the responsibility of caring for Drew, and of refusing to give him up. But in a quiet way. I like the thought of a family refusing to let its young men disappear or walk away from their place and community. I liked the idea of a community having responsibility for its members, as much as the members have responsibility for their community. In fact, I like the way the distinction between 'individual' and 'community' was collapsed. The more time Drew spends in the region, the more people see and recognise him, the more firmly he is established as a part of a complicated network of people and place. Eventually, he can't exist outside this network - he learns to work in the community more efficiently as a lawyer, but also as a son and cousin and part of a wider community.
I also liked the way Drew's response to all this was ambivalent - he had to negotiate his own acceptance of this new life and new family. Sure, it was inevitable (and you get the feeling that his family were never ever going to let him completely cut himself off again - they'd found him and were keeping him), but his own active negotiation and acceptance was also essential.

I also liked the way the local community reached out to newcomers to find a place for them in the extended community network - the older European woman Ellie is sitting at the beach with a group of women teaching and learning a dance for an upcoming festival. The older women tease her about her reluctance to date an older aboriginal man who's been flirting with her. The woman who's been teaching the children the dance says at one point, after demanding they do it again until they get it right: "We could use more dancers," looking at Ellie. Ellie makes an excuse and leaves the group. But it's clear that she's being invited to join the dance not just as a way of including her in the group, but as a way of including her in the wider community network. It is as important to the community (and dance) to include her as it is to make her feel 'belonging' or 'included'. It reminds me of the way white researchers in remote aboriginal community speak of being given a skin by the local community - it is important for them to have a place so that others in the community know how to deal with them and interact with them. Because there's a system of rules and law dictating how people should and do interact with each other, and with the land.

So The Circuit is, mostly, a story about a community finding a 'skin' for Drew - a way of integrating him into the community, into the system of respect and family and land and law. It's also about his finding a place for himself, but its more important for him to understand that he is also being claimed and found in return. He belongs to that community as much as it belongs to him.

[all images from here]

"the circuit" was posted by dogpossum on August 27, 2008 2:04 PM in the category the circuit

August 25, 2008

everybody else is doing it...


But this doesn't really look at all like me. I have short, spikey hair. I have little eyes. I have big hairy caterpillar eyebrows. I have a skinny nose and it goes down a long way. But my head is not wide like that. And I have a long chin. But I do like stripes.

btw, I've been sick since I last posted - that's why I was feeling a bit crap that last post.

[edit: can you see it now?]

"everybody else is doing it..." was posted by dogpossum on August 25, 2008 12:28 AM in the category clicky

August 22, 2008

oh yes

Whoa Babe is the best song in the world. Yes.

"oh yes" was posted by dogpossum on August 22, 2008 6:29 PM in the category music

August 16, 2008

oh goodness


Crinks has just alerted to me the wonder of Cake Wrecks. It will make you happy.

"oh goodness" was posted by dogpossum on August 16, 2008 2:57 PM in the category clicky

August 15, 2008

omg ponies

Suddenly I'm interested in the Olympics. Fuck the swimming, give me badass sisters kickin' it with their pony mates. YEAH!

(read about Anky here).

"omg ponies" was posted by dogpossum on August 15, 2008 8:21 PM in the category clicky

round up

Enough of the random posts. Just join them all together and make one long stream of consciousness post.

Right now my stomach is feeling unsure. It began feeling unsure yesterday after I had chicken salad from the joint in Summer Hill. I wouldn't have eaten there if it hadn't been 4pm and I hadn't forgotten to have lunch. I'd also walked to the hardware store (again - I freakin' love that place) and then round the long way to the shops, mostly so I could look at the flour mill that's up for redevelopment. I am fascinated by the fact that there's a giant flour mill just down the street, and that it's joined to another flour mill in Dulwich Hill by a special-duty train line. That one's been made into flats, though. But I'm still really interested in it. It seems I'm not the only one into flour mills. There's always someone leaning over the railing on the bridge over the railway, staring at the giant white flour mill (the one in Summer Hill). It's a pretty good view - a long view, from a height. And it's so freakin' big. And you just know that the people having a stare are thinking about what they'd do with the site if they owned it. I don't know why they're bothering - it belongs to a gang of crows who've been terrorising the pigeons in that neck of the woods, and they're not likely to cede it to a bunch of no-winged two-leggers who'd like a little light industrial inner-city living.

So yeah, my stomach feels a bit odd. I can't decide if it's dodgy chicken salad or anxiety. It could quite possibly be low level anxiety. This is the first day I've had to myself in the new house with no real jobs to do. I guess I need to go up to Ashfield to get groceries (we have none). I'd really like to get into the city to a) go to see some Art, and (more importantly), b) find that tapestry speciality place. But I'm apparently crippled by... that thing that makes it difficult to leave the house. I think I might chalk all this up to hormones, as I've actually been feeling quite wonderful ever since we got here. I really like traveling and I love being in a new city. I like all the walking. Plus Sydney's fabulous weather is making me feel so good. I hadn't realised just how draining Melbourne's grey skies and nasty cold were until we left. I am remembering how nice it is to live in a warmer climate. But I'm not so struck on the increased humidity - I am also remembering its effects on my allergies.

It's not so much that I've been shouting at innocent blokes, but more that I've been trying to rub my nose off my face and had trouble concentrating. It could be PMS, but I actually am pretty sure it's allergies screwing with my mood. I'm trying not to take antihistamines as I seem to be on them every single day, but it's not really making me feel nice.

I'm also at home because I'm waiting for tradesmen #62 000. Actually, it's more like tradesman #9. Really. I am liking living in a house where the owner actually fixes things. The things we've needed fixed have been fairly inconsequential... well, except for the River of Effluent... but they've been fixed immediately.

1. windows painted shut? fixed (Charlie, from Greece - my favourite)
2. fence built? done (whatsit from Malta - initially my least favourite, but later one of my top 5)
3. forgotten bathtub spout? done (young fulla who's name I can't remember. ok)
4. garage door doesn't close? not quite fixed, but at least a couple of blokes came to look at it (one of whom was Mal, whose parents were from Italy).
5. garage door still not closing? still not fixed (another bloke who failed to return and give me his life story, though he did provide a few interesting tips on the tensile strength of various metals).
6. sound proofing? quotes done (including.... can't remember his name either. But he was Greek by descent and he lives in the outer suburbs but works in Marrickville. He recommends the cakes in Leichardt)
7 and 8. River of Effluent? dammed. ("Maria! Send tradesmen, please! The garden is full of effluent!" 2 young fullas of skip descent, up to their knees in human waste, giving our drains a good routing. White neighbour-cat carefully discouraged from helping)

9. Today it's another sound proofing guy. Apparently the owner is going ahead with it (which is wonderful). He was supposed to be here between 9.30 and 10, but it's 10.39 now. He and the garage door guy have failed to return.

Part of me is worried about all this tradesman action. I don't want to use up all my credit now when I'll certainly need it in the future... or will I? We have obviously moved up a rental bracket, to that wondrous place where wiring isn't illegal and life-endangering (we have a trip switch! No plug points have caught fire! We have had electricity for at least three weeks!) and where plumbing is generally sound, barring the usual hiccups of a house that's over 100 and recently had new pipes installed. No water mains have burst, filling our veggie patches with boiling water. No windows have broken, letting in arctic winds. And the stove works wonderfully. There are no mice (knock on wood), but I have seen one large cockroach in the house. I remembered why I actually wear thongs. After I dealt with it The Squeeze proceeded to sing 'la cocka roacha!, la cocka roacha!' around the house for about five minutes in a Tom Waits voice. It was entertaining, but perhaps too entertaining so close to bed time - it was difficult to sleep with the thought of Tom Waits serenading me in a Mexican cantina.

So I'm wondering if we're tempting fate with all this tradesmen action.

This hasn't stopped me asking if it's ok to dig up the garden and plant zillions of herbs. Ordinarily I'd just do it, but the landlord seems pretty house-proud, so the rules are different. Our back neighbour (who lives in the back part of this federation home) is a chef, so he's also quite keen on a herb garden/veggie patch. He is now My Friend, partly because I am still in post-move aggressive friendliness mode and will not allow otherwise. He is also the owner of aforementioned friendly white cat (Alby).

Alby is convinced he actually lives in our part of the house as well, and follows me around all day. He divides his time between sleeping in front of the front door in the sun, trying to climb into my laundry basket, romancing me with quite lovely accapella and playing in Rivers of Effluent. I am mightily allergic to cats, so there's no physical contact, a lot of "No! Don't go in there! Get out of there!" This has, of course, made me both the most interesting and the most appealing part of our neighbourhood.
The other day Alby was joined by Fluffy Tailed Black Cat from round the corner, and they both proceeded to play in the mulch and attempt domestic incursions. Alby failed (I think he's a bit dumb - he's very pretty, being white with pale blue eyes and a pink nose - but he's not so smart. He's also quite young), but FTBC had a little more luck. I was making the bed when a pair of large black ears was followed by a goofy black face over the other side of the bed. As I picked him up (physical contact! Aaaargh!) he let out a sort of 'mrprrft' purr-burp and kept up the chainsaw action as I clamped him under the armpits and hefted him outside.
I have also seen a giant orange and white tom with a mangled up face. Both Alby and I gave him a deal of distance as he marked out the new trees as his territory. We were both willing to concede him sovereignty.

On other fronts, I am working at Gleebooks doing functions (thanks Glen!). I like it a LOT. I was too late for sessional teaching this semester, but have lined up some contacts for next year. I have already DJed one set here in Sydney and am set for a blues set this Sunday. It seems there aren't too many DJs here, which is a shame. But I'm really enjoying dancing, so I'm not sure I'm ready to DJ a whole lot. I will set limits.

Last weekend we went to Canberra for Canberrang, the Canberra lindy exchange. I bought a Tshirt and DJed one set. We stayed with an old school friend of mine and only attended two night's worth. I think I prefer shorter events - Fri, Sat, Sun nights max. Any more is kind of too much. We went on the bus and it wasn't too bad. It was also very cheap. On the way back it snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed. It was like Europe. With eucalypts and kangaroos. We had a good time, over all.

We have quite a few friends here in Sydney, and have already had interstate visitors. Next week we get more. And the next week The Squeeze's matriarch arrives, so we will get our tourist on, big time. Which I'm looking forward to. I feel like the OPERA HOUSE is out there doing fun things without me every day. Then we have people coming up for SLX in September. Then my mother in October (perhaps). Then we're down in November for MLX. Then it's christmas, which we may spend in Melbourne, but we aren't sure. So it's all systems go. Sydney is apparently one of those cities people really like to visit. Partly because it rocks - there's just so much to do. And also because the weather is nice. Which is where it pwns Melbourne.

I like Sydney, but I am a bit sad that there are so few fabric shops. I have seen two in Marrickville, and I have been given the sweet lowdown by a dress making Hollywood lindy hopper, and will get on into the city (Haymarket) to find more. Then there's Cabramatta, but that's miles away. At any rate, none are a short bike ride away, so it seems I will have to find new hobbies. Or rediscover old ones. I have also found a yoga studio quite near by, but it is some sort of arty made up bullshit yoga, and not straight out iyengar. I need to get on that ASAP as I miss yoga already. Also, I haven't ridden my bike once. This means that I'm getting more exercise, but I am missing my bike. Poor blacky, stuck in the shed all day, bored and lonely. The Squeeze has been riding to work in the city and comes home with stories about having his arse kicked by the hills and making friends with other bike riders. This city is disturbingly friendly. Everyone seems so delighted that we've left Melbourne for Sydney - there're lots of "How do you like it?"s and chats with strangers about cake. There are fewer conversations about the weather, but I suppose that's because it's so nice here there's really nothing to say beyond "pwoar - another freakin' beautiful day, hey?"

Alright, that's enough blathering. I have to go.... well, not do anything, really, but I might as well think about doing something other than making internet. You know the rules: get out of bed, change out of your pajamas (or pa-yamas! if you're Tom Waits a la cantina), leave the internet alone after a couple of hours. It is, unsurprisingly, a beautiful day, and there're fabric shops to stalk.

"round up" was posted by dogpossum on August 15, 2008 12:24 PM in the category bikes and djing and domesticity and greenies and lindy hop and other dances and old sew and sew and sydney and yoga

oh goodness me

isn't sister Rosetta Tharpe the fushizz?

(via flopearedmule)

"oh goodness me" was posted by dogpossum on August 15, 2008 12:10 PM in the category music

because...'s that time of year, I'm thinking about DJing hardware. I think I want to upgrade from the imic


to something serious. Well, to be honest, right now I use the imic as the output for my headphones and go straight from the laptop headphones jack to the sound gear. Which isn't ideal. But somehow I got into the habit when I was first using my headphones - I couldn't get DJ1800 to work with the headphones while itunes played through the imic. I think it's a DJ1800 issue. DJ1800 is not very excellent - perhaps I need to fix my software solution...

...look, well, I'll have a go with the imic talking to the sound gear with itunes, and DJ1800 playing through the headphones jack to the headphones. Maybe that will help with some skanky sound problems I've been having lately...

"because..." was posted by dogpossum on August 15, 2008 12:42 AM in the category djing

August 14, 2008

there are many cute things in this universe


This is only one of them.

"there are many cute things in this universe" was posted by dogpossum on August 14, 2008 3:59 PM in the category coooteeewooteee

do i need to go on?

There are many disturbing things about this Prada ad, but the one that really makes me squirm is the female figure's body shape and posture. Weirdly pre-pubescent almost-breasts, super long legs... she walks like a catwalk model even without the silly shoes. And that type of walk (helllooooo pelvis) is actually a bit tricky to master.
Do I need to go on? I mean, surely I'm not the only one who has trouble with the gender stuff here.

"do i need to go on?" was posted by dogpossum on August 14, 2008 3:56 PM in the category clicky

August 11, 2008

hot and anxious

While it might perhaps be the most recognisable song of the 'swing era', I don't like 'In the Mood'. Glen Miller can go screw himself. I know that he had some action going on, but I'm adamant. In fact, I'm standing by my line, and not liking his version of that song. I don't like dancing to it, and I don't particularly like listening to it. No, no, I don't.

I do, however, very much like There's Rhythm in Harlem by the Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1935). That online version there, though, unfortunately doesn't feature the very recognisable In the Mood melody line.
I also have a song called Hot and Anxious (1932) by Don Redman (who wrote stuff for the McKinney's Cotton Pickers - that's him to the left there), which also pwns the Miller version. Having said that, I'm not entirely sure they're different songs... or different versions.

... wait, let me get my learn on.

Gunther Schuller tells me that Hot and Anxious was arranged by Horace Henderson for Don Redman (and his orchestra) in 1932. He also writes that In the Mood...

...has an interesting history. A riff tune, built on blues changes, it was composed by the black reed instrumentalist and arranger Joe Garland. But as is so often the case in riff pieces, it was based on a motif that had kicked around a long time and was simply assembled, notated, and put by Garland in a specific copyrightable form. It appears that the trumpeter Wingy Manone first used the basic In The Mood lick from 1930 on a Chicago-style recording called Tar Paper Stomp. He recorded it again, rechristened as Jumpy Nerves, in 1939, just four months before Miller's In The Mood recording. But by that time Joe Garland had picked the riff up and had used it in his 1935 composition and arrangement of There's Rhythm in Harlem for the Mills Blue Rhythm Band. But long before that (March 1931) Horace Henderson had incorporated the riff as the second strain in his Hot and Anxious, recorded by both his brother Fletcher's band and Don Redman's.

Joe Garland took his 1935 arrangement with him when he left the Blue Rhythm Band along with Edgar Hayes, and recorded it as In The Mood for Hayes in early 1938. Next he offered it to Artie Shaw, who played but never recorded it, on the one hand thinking the simplistic riff a little beneath his own musical ambitions and on the other hand finding Garland's arrangement too long to fit on a ten-inch disc.

When Garland offered In the Mood to Miller, who was undoubtedly looking for strong new numbers for his Glen Island Casino booking, Miller grabbed the piece. With the precise skills of a first-rate surgeon Miller trimmed Garland's arrangement down to essentials, retaining the two initial strains, building in two solo sections (a saxophone exchange between Beneke and Klink, and a Hurley 16-bar trumpet solo over an Aflat pedal point) to the famous fade-away ending with its riff repeated three times at ever softer dynamic levels, then suddenly roaring in ff a fourth time for the final climax. ... [and here Schuller continues with an in-depth analysis of the score and recording]...

No official word has ever been offered as to how the arranger's credits are to read. Two things are clear, however, from the aural evidence itself... [and Schuller describes this evidence in detail]...

It is ironic but in the nature of the popular music business, that Miller became a millionaire on In The Mood alone, unlike his three arranger helpmates - [Joe] Garland, [Eddie] Durham [once trombonist with Jimmie Lunceford's band], and [Chummy] MacGregor [Miller's pianist] - who did not share in the financial rewards. Durham reputedly received all of five dollars for his contribution. (The Swing Era, Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1989: 674-675).


I recommend Schuller's histories of jazz. The Swing Era is awesome - it's a big, fat book, and you can pick it up on amazon for a tiny amount. I don't have Early Jazz, but it's on my wish list. While his analyses of each musician are complemented by some seriously in-depth analysis of the score, it's still accessible. And listening along is really fascinating - you learn an awful lot.

"hot and anxious" was posted by dogpossum on August 11, 2008 10:09 PM in the category music

August 7, 2008

more lovely swedish action

(From here).

That's Hanna, Mattias and Sakarias. No girly girl action there.
I realise I've been spelling Sak's name incorrectly. These guys are all members of the Harlem Hot Shots, and I think they're the best of the post-revival (or revival) generation.

Speaking of no girly action...">!.

While I'm at it, here're some of the Hot Shots doing some Tranky Doo/Keep Punchin' Big Apple action. Sweeeeeet.

And finally, of course, Frida takes no prisoners:

"more lovely swedish action" was posted by dogpossum on August 7, 2008 10:01 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

more youtube 'blogging'

Herrang is home to the bestest vernacular jazz dance camp/festival in the world. Last few years they've followed up the camp with a competition in Sweden - the Battle. I use a clip from a previous year for teaching and papers at conferences.
This year the lindy hop didn't really blow my brain, but there is some sweetness in the 'authentic jazz competition'. Mostly in the person of one Zacharias Larsson. This boy is a giant, young Swede - quite possibly the sweetest thing. And my personal jazz dancing hero.
Check out the first clip below. That's Zach in the white shirt and beige trousers.

(From here).
For my money, he's the only one really bringing it - less with the show pony, more with the dancing (though he's certainly not shy of a little showing off).

Look, here's some more - from the finals:

(From here).

Oh yeah, that's the action. Try to look past the flailing in the foreground (sorry, friends, but that's not very interesting stuff - better than anything I could pull, but still... I really am tired of girls dancing dancing sexy and twirling their hands about like belly dancers - HARDEN UP!).

And, finally, peer past (even more) flailing to see him pull some serious sweet action here:

He really is pulling some sweet dancing there. If we were to get all nit-picky, he's definitely working the 'authentic' stuff - as in dance steps which have some historical weight. Technically, he's a dream. Musically, he's awesome. And aesthetically - as a package - he makes it all work. My favourite in that last one is the way he works it quite small until the music gets big, then he brings out the nice high kicks (a la cake walking goodness).

He's not only a nice person and a fabulous dancer, he's also a fully sick teacher. He and Frida have been long term dance partners (though she's getting more into the American scene these days). Here's a photo The Squeeze took in Melbourne in 2002:

That's them at full stretch, kickin' it lindy hop style.

"more youtube 'blogging'" was posted by dogpossum on August 7, 2008 3:59 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

August 6, 2008

i like it

Even though it's some sort of stereotype, I like it that both In and Out and Saving Face end with dancing scenes. Kissing and dancing. Really, what could be nicer than kissing someone you love while you're dancing?


I'm just a big old nanna.

"i like it" was posted by dogpossum on August 6, 2008 10:33 PM in the category fillums | Comments (0)

i made a good post

but the computer eated it.

How do I feel about gearupgirl? Not too happy. Cycling should be so easy we don't a special 'get girls into it' site. But cycling in Sydney is scary. I haven't done it yet, but The Squeeze is doing it after dinner.

"i made a good post" was posted by dogpossum on August 6, 2008 8:33 PM in the category bikes | Comments (0)

no google doesn't go here

Best blogging of google-freaking-out-Australians-street view.

NB The Squeeze and I rushed straight to look at the Taj Mahal (no, not the blues musician) last night and were Disappointed. We settled for pretending the cyclist in front of our old house was me.

"no google doesn't go here" was posted by dogpossum on August 6, 2008 7:21 PM in the category clicky | Comments (0)

trev got pwnd


But this image pwns all.

"trev got pwnd" was posted by dogpossum on August 6, 2008 4:36 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (5)

August 3, 2008

barbara morrison does sydney

BM.jpg Sparingly: Barbara Morrison rocks. Her music is very popular with swing dancers (though I'm always surprised that so few go see her shows when she's in town - she's a seasoned musicians who specialises in playing for dancers), and she's doing a few shows in Sydney and one in Melbourne. She's doing one special show for dancers with specially-priced tickets: only $30 for the first 100 tickets. She'll be playing with the Brad Child Orchestra & John Harkins Trio. I met Brad Child last week at the Unity Hall Pub (where we'll be this afternoon... quite soon... if you like jass) and he's quite keen on the gig. I'm curious and looking forward to it.

From the site...


The undisputed first ladies of Jazz Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holliday are being saluted by US acclaimed jazz/blues vocalist Barbara Morrison, who is returning by popular demand to Australian stages in August 2008.

“The Captivating Ms. Morrison just tears ‘em up!” (LA Scoop)

“A joy! At Carnegie Hall, Barbara Morrison delivered one song a la Esther Phillips and another with Ella Fitzgerald’s blithe scat singing.” (New York Times)

and “She can be as playful as Ella, as thoughtful as Sarah, as naughty as Etta. Barbara Morrison, has an international following with her big personality and delicious sense of swing” (The Jazz World Magazine).

Where and when?
Thursday, August 21 from 7:30 pm
Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Enmore, Sydney, Australia

"barbara morrison does sydney" was posted by dogpossum on August 3, 2008 5:24 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (2)

jazz on a winter's day

1. I am full of snot because I forgot to take my antihistamine yesterday and our house is full of moving dust.

2. I got up late because we went dancing at the Roxbury. Yes, we had a night at the Roxbury. It was wicked fun - a crowded, pumping room with lots of dancers and lots of fun. There's a lot of dancing in Sydney, and a lot of dancers. So far we have been out dancing four times (in two weeks!), and had to beg off a fifth because we were wrecked from house hunting. It wasn't just a heap of fun because there were so many dancers there, it was also a heap of fun because there's such a range of dancing styles on the floor. There're two major schools in Sydney, one which is an off-shoot of a Melbourne school, another which also has an interstate presence and which teaches 'Hollywood' style. I have to say that there were some leads there last night that blew my brain - they were so good I just thought 'just follow, just follow - don't muck this up with any fancy business'.
They weren't just technically good dancers, they were also socially 'good' - they'd smile and respond and interact with their partners and did nice things like say "thanks for that dance!" and ask for another with enthusiasm. They were also more musically interesting - not just dancing the same old boring steps in the same old combinations, regardless of phrasing or energy or the structure of the song generally. And then they were great because they did things like include interesting jazz steps, experiment with the connection and really make me pay attention.
First night in town dancing I was suddenly struck by how obstructive my own bad habits are to my following. And when I danced with someone who 'felt' like a Melbourne dancer (yanking me in on one, rather than using a more mellow lead in), I suddenly thought 'oh, this is why I have this bad habit of running in one, rather than waiting to be led - I'm trying to protect myself and avoid yank'. But that same protective rush is also impeding my following - it's like I'm interrupting and yapping on without listening to their idea; I'm finishing their sentences. And in turn this makes it difficult for us to actually have a proper conversation where we're both contributing equally.
A nice thing about dancing in a really diverse scene with lots of leads who take very different approaches is that I have to pick up my game and I feel inspired and really interested in actually dancing. Another nice thing is that it's really nice to watch the floor. In fact, it feels like we're at an exchange - even The Squeeze is dancing a lot. We're possibly going dancing again tonight (a big band squeezed into the Unity Hall pub in Balmain this afternoon) and while I'm a bit hesitant as we have more house stuff to do, he's all "yep, we'll be there!"
There're actually quite a few live bands to see in Sydney. In fact, there's not much of a DJing culture at all here, and most people are into live music for their dancing. This is really very nice - we've only seen one band so far, but it's always exciting to see new musicians. The year we went to SLX (the Sydney Lindy Exchange) the exchange coincided with the Manly Jazz Festival - now that was special.

jsd.jpg 3. Which is a nice segue to my next point. Right now I'm watching Jazz on a Summer's Day, a 1960 film made about the Newport Jazz Festival. FXH recommended it in his comment to this post, but I'd mistaken it for another film. Any how, I ordered it on our Quickflix account and I'm watching it right now, while I wipe my nose and The Squeeze has a long, deliciously decadent lie-in (the first he's had in about a month). It's a great film, the music is really fabulous and the visuals are really neat - lots of crowd footage, scenes from the yacht race and of course, really, really amazing footage of musicians. anita1.jpg
Newport looms large in my mind for a number of reasons. Firstly, because there are so many freakin' amazing albums featuring performances from the festival.
mj.jpg My most recent purchase in this series was the Mahalia Jackson live in 1958, and that really is fully sick. Beyond that, there's the Count Basie at Newport album, and of course, the Ellington at Newport in '56. Both of these are really neat. What makes them so neat is the fact that these were really big stars live in front of a massive crowd at an outdoor festival.
hs.jpgBeyond these, Newport is also an important character in a film I've always loved, High Society. Louis Armstrong stars in High Society, and the protagonist Dexter is played by Bing Crosby. Dexter is set up as a patron/organiser? (I can't remember which) of the Newport Jazz Festival, and the entire film is set in Newport. There're some interesting class things going on in the film, the one that always catches my interest being the way Armstrong is set up as the 'narrative' of the film in the opening scene as he and his band arrive in town in a coach (a nice contrast with Samantha's sports car). Armstrong also sings the really great song 'Now You Has Jazz' with Bing Crosby, a song which is popular with dancers (and good fun for dancing). There's a sweet scene where Armstrong and the band introduce the very straight, very white crowd of Newport socialites to jazz. They play the one song then it's back to straighty-one-eighty unswing, unjazz for the rest of the party. I really like the idea of a black man (and such an important man in the history of jazz) introducing a bunch of straights to jazz at a Newport society house party. The crowd are apparently completely unaware of the festival and its significance - oblivious to the world beyond their high society manners and conflicts. Crosby's role is kind of problematic, set up as he is, as the 'patron' for the festival.
It's interesting to watch High Society in reference to Jazz on a Summer's Day, and in the light of the festival's history more generally. And I'm very grateful to FXH for getting me onto this film in the first place.

"jazz on a winter's day" was posted by dogpossum on August 3, 2008 1:45 PM in the category fillums and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

August 1, 2008

lindy hop 80s style

I know it's wrong to just post youtube clips, but I had to. This is some dancing from the 80s - I'm sure I recognise some famous doods there, but I'm confident enough to specify. But you HAVE to watch through to see two chicks dancing together - they rock.

In a similar vein, here's some more 80s lindy. This time it's the Harlem Hot Shots (Swedish superstars) doing a fully sick recreation of very famous routine(s). These guys are really tight, pulling out shit that's tres chic with the kids today... and to think, some of those kids were all 'I only dance smooth' five years ago. Sigh.

FYI: here's the original routine referenced by the Hot Shots:

...and of course, the Hellza routine:

"lindy hop 80s style" was posted by dogpossum on August 1, 2008 9:55 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

camp jitterbug 08

The Camp Jitterbug clips are always really nice - some wonderful editing (evidencing a dancer's understanding of tempo, rhythm and, well, wonderfulness), and this is teaser for this year's DVD:

My favourite part of any competition (and CJ is a comp weekend), is the solo charleston. Here's this year's final:

That girl in the final there, that's Sharon - she's Australian. I especially love the dynamic between competitors and between competitors and crowd in this type of competition. There's a real to-and-fro - the dancers dance better with encouragement. And you can hear the crowd's response when they like something - not just louder, but an increase in intensity. And of course, this type of competition requires dancers know something about phrasing - they send themselves in at the end of a phrase and have to get themselves out. And of course, with a live band all this communication and creative reciprocity is even more exciting.

"camp jitterbug 08" was posted by dogpossum on August 1, 2008 10:31 AM in the category lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)