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September 30, 2008

watch this nerdy stuff

The Archive from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.
Poor record nerd. :(

"watch this nerdy stuff" was posted by dogpossum on September 30, 2008 9:34 PM in the category music

scarily productive

We'd watched an episode of the WW, eaten some pizza and some of the Moblerone (more on that later). I decided it was probably time for bed, what with the wailing and grizzling and lack of fine motor skills.
I was disappointed to see it was only 7.30.

I have been going to bed early and getting up early. I have made two blouses (collar, sleeves with gathers, buttons) and a skirt and have marked a lot of essays. I've been up since 7am. This is all new and scarily productive stuff. I have also developed a whole lot of mad tranky doo skills.

The pizza was good. Calzone, filled with panchetta, ricotta, tomato, garlic and yum.

"scarily productive" was posted by dogpossum on September 30, 2008 9:29 PM in the category domesticity

September 24, 2008

plastic bag great!

"plastic bag great!" was posted by dogpossum on September 24, 2008 7:58 PM in the category clicky

remember to breathe

I found this nice thing and it reminded me of ducky.

"remember to breathe" was posted by dogpossum on September 24, 2008 7:44 PM in the category clicky

andy kirk, mary lou williams and the clouds of joy

I need more of this man:


and this woman:


and these blokes:


[all photos ripped, shamelessly, from This wonderful site devoted to the African-American Musicians Union. It's fully sick]

"andy kirk, mary lou williams and the clouds of joy" was posted by dogpossum on September 24, 2008 1:27 PM in the category djing and music and objects of desire

September 23, 2008

goodness me

This past week I was teaching psychoanalysis. Or more specifically, a bit of Freud and then a bit of other people using and abusing Freud. This may entertain a few of you who know my feelings about psychoanalysis and Freud. We're not friends. But the reading for the subject was from this neat text by Cranny Francis et al and I liked it - I've even bought the book because it gave such a useful overview of this stuff, especially in reference to gender, and I'm collecting useful resources. For The Future.

Any how, we ended up saying p3nis, vag1na, shit, poo and a few other things quite a lot of times. I was all 'blah blah blah' and 'let's see what the difference between the phallus and the p3nis is' and forgot to remember that firsties are afraid of naked body words. I mean, each semester I realise they're also afraid of body hair on women (not having seen any, ever), and get a bit freaked out when I wear a sleeveless shirt as we move into summer. Any how, it took them a while, but eventually they eased up and could manage to use The Words. Not with much comfort, but use them they did. Eventually.

This is actually a more complicated issue than you might realise, especially in the context of teaching a class that's 80% international or first gen Australian students, many of whom come from families or cultures where it's totally not on to talk about this stuff in public, especially not in mixed-sex settings, across generations and across heirarchies. Part of me was all 'oh come on, when I was a lass and doing gender studies we had to use the c word in my feministah classes'. And sure, we were bad ass (though I have to say, it was a bit rough on some of the private school kiddies who hadn't gone to a rough outer suburbs public high school), but it was a bit challenging at first. I remember being amazed by the thought of 'reclaiming' the word. I was used to it being yelled at me out of bus windows as I rode my bike home. I didn't much care for it, personally, and wasn't really ready to use it, let alone reclaim it.

But I was surprised by the shyness of my stoods. I guess it's an age thing - when you're a teenager sex is all new and weird and freaky. You're busy testing out your preferences (in terms of gender and relationships and what you do in bed and what you wear and ... hell, everything) and you're a bit unsure of most things, and, well, you didn't make it to the end of the reading, so you're not actually sure what everyone's talking about anyway.

And there were moments when I thought 'ok, am I demonstrating sufficient cultural sensitivity?' I can be a blunt object, but I think that this stuff needs to be dealt with just as we would any other topic - clearly, in detail, with discussion and - if possible - looking at google maps. Well, not so much with the google maps. But I was careful to be 'appropriate' in my approach. And I was. Except for that one moment when I noticed that my usually-very-big hand gestures had suddenly taken a turn for the explicit when we discussed the difference between p3nis and phallus. But that was just funny. And, as I said at the time "a little ambitious, even for Freud's neuroses."

So anyway, this bunch of relatively outspoken Young People were quite shy and at first reluctant to talk. But then they relaxed and really got into it. I couldn't believe how many people'd done the reading - numbers'd jumped massively from the week before. And it was a long reading with some quite challenging bits. I mean, Lacan + Freud + Saussere + Cixous and lots of other people, all in one reading? I know it took me a while to get through it all, and I've read this stuff before.
But they were all really into this, they were just interested and excited about the ideas. Freud always polarises students, and it was neat to see them get in their 3-people groups and hack into the Oedipal complex. Who would've thought?

"goodness me" was posted by dogpossum on September 23, 2008 6:51 PM in the category teaching

Fats Waller's A Good Man Is Hard to Find: The Middle Years, Part 2

I love Fats. It's no secret. This love is becoming an obsession. But A Good Man Is Hard to Find: The Middle Years, Part 2 is another in an excellent series of collections from Bluebird/RCA. I've been happy with every Bluebird purchase I've made - they seem to have recorded my favourite artists and to have produced some lovely albums.
I also have 'the Last Years' and 'the Middle Years part 1'. There're three 'Early Years' sets in this series.
I don't recommend them to new Fats fans - it's pretty samey, and if you don't like one Fats song, there's a good chance you won't like the others. But if you do... well. These are the best collections I've seen around (which are also easily accessible/purchased), the quality is pretty decent and the liner notes are interesting.

"Fats Waller's A Good Man Is Hard to Find: The Middle Years, Part 2" was posted by dogpossum on September 23, 2008 6:03 PM in the category digging and music

The Chronological Martha Davis 1946-1951

The Chronological Martha Davis 1946-1951. I have a couple of her songs from a great compilation of Kansas Blues singers and I play them over and over and over. There's not a lot of Davis stuff about, but that's what I want. I play one song, 'Kitchen Blues' an awful lot - she has a lovely, velvety voice.

[edit: marking these essays has apparently done irreparable damage to my language skills]

"The Chronological Martha Davis 1946-1951" was posted by dogpossum on September 23, 2008 11:57 AM in the category djing and music and objects of desire

September 22, 2008

i have some problems with the west wing

Spoiler alert: I give the entire game away in this post. If you're keen to watch The Wire, don't watch the clips - they will ruin it for you. I'd even be careful with some of the text.

I have some problems with the West Wing. I no longer think it's the bee's knees. Partly because I've since watched The Wire, which is the bee's knees, but also because we're rewatching season one now, while we also watch The Wire.
What issues do I have with the West Wing?

1. the music is really intrusive and pushy. The Wire has ruined me for telly with a score. There's no music in The Wire, beyond what the characters hear in their ordinary settings. But the West Wing is rank with it, and it's pushy. It's busy telling you, 'hey, this is a really serious bit' or 'look out - he's angry, he's angry!' You're not left to figure out how you should feel on your own. The Wire doesn't baby you or preach - it figures you know how you're supposed to feel. And the West Wing has that horrid, overly florid music that really gets up my crack.

2. america is wonderful. The West Wing is, essentially, a story about the wonderfulness of the American democratic process. It almost tries to problematise some legislative issues, but it doesn't quite make it. Ultimately, any problem with the American electoral system, laws, powers of the president or general legal system are solved by the wonderfulness of the president. Jed Bartlett/Martin Sheen (and the two are inextricable) is presented as this too-wonderful man, whose sheer charisma absolves the broader structural problems in American civics. He's so smart, so charming, so wickedly brave and sneaky, our problems with his policy or with the way the government he leads works are nudged aside. This feels, ultimately, untrue and deceitful. The West Wing promises a clever, insightful gaze into the white house. But really, it offers you a bunch of fast dialogue with very ordinary, very familiar and very unradical story lines and characters.

3. the dialogue is clever. It's not. It's quick. But every character speaks, ultimately, the same way. The first time I watched this show I thought 'my, I'd love to work in a place like that, where everyone is really clever and everyone is stretched and really used for their best abilities'. But now, I'm not buying that. With rewatching, the stories and dialogue aren't so clever. I'm really not seeing any new types of character relationships or story arcs. There're some overly moralising stories about drugs or health care, but, really, it's the same old preachy shit. And while these guys are presented as the 'good guys' - the left - they're really only soft left. And I don't even want to talk about race. Well, perhaps a little. Black, in the white house? You'll be holding doors for the president, getting told off for speaking out about racism (in ep 15, season 1) or getting killed, eventually.

The Wire, in contrast, is really quite radical. We spend as much time with the drug dealers and shooters and strippers as we do with the police. In fact, the institutional structures and discourses of the illegal networks are far more complex and sophisticated than the police and 'legal' institutions. The police team working 'the wire' are really following a couple of steps behind the B&B crew, trying to figure out how they manage to hide their dealings using a telephone network. You're really left thinking that the B&B organisation - particularly under Stringer Bell's direction - is organised crime.

Issues of crime and class are dealt with in long-reaching, long-term story arcs. They're not resolved in an episode with some ideological bravado from Toby, some practical problem solving from Leo and some balderdash paternalism from Bartlet. Problem solving - solving cases - isn't quick or simple. It doesn't use high tech forensics. It uses, at best, wire taps on pay phones and blokes on roofs with film cameras. Some of the police are utterly crap and incompetent. Some of them have potential, but fail to realise it. And sometimes, the cases don't get solved. There are also frustrating moments when the characters fail to communicate and royally fuck up a 'simple' resolution. So the story lines aren't as clear and simple and easily resolved. West Wing is dealing with the disadvantages of an episodic format - it can't really work with longer, sustained (and ultimately more complex) story lines. But really, there's no excuse for dialogue that looks clever, but isn't, really.

4. the gender stuff. Basically, the chicks on the West Wing are dumb arses. They look good - they sound clever. And CJ is tall. But they're really not the smartest kids in the class. Evidence? Let's say we're faced with a tricky moment in American legislative process. We're pretty sure the audience won't understand or have any useful knowledge about this process. We need to clue them in, but we have about 45 minutes to get the story done, and really, this little narrative knot is more important for making a point about Bartlet's persona or Josh's impending romance. So how do we clue in the audience? The West Wing gets old school and uses some exposition. Basically, one of the clever characters (usually one of the lawyers - Toby, Josh or Sam) explains the process to someone else. 95% of the time that person who needs things explaining is a woman. This could be excused by the fact that the characters are in their first term in the white house -they're new to the job. But why is it always CJ or Mandy or Donna who needs to have something explained to them? It's fairly rare to see Sam having something explained. Unless it's emotional stuff. If it's something to do with dating, Sam's having it explained to him by... some chick. If it's something about being kind, Josh is having it explained to him by Donna. If there's a story about the futility of young men lost in wars, it's Mrs Lanningham explaining to young Charlie.

This is one part of West Wing that I'm finding increasingly intolerable. That and the music. I've just about had enough of hearing Toby rant to CJ or Sam explain sampling process to CJ. The latter I am almost furiously frustrated by. CJ, as a PR wiz, should have at the very least, a working knowledge of basic sampling processes, at least as they're applied to polling and public opinion surveys. I mean, fuck, my undergrads could figure it out after an hour of lecture and a couple of readings. CJ doesn't understand it? Jeez. I just wasn't buying it. And if it's simple enough to explain in three minutes of expository dialogue, I'm a little surprised so competent and articulate and clever a woman as CJ can't get it after hours reading briefing papers... or perhaps the people who write these briefs need a little help? And I don't think I need to talk about Mrs Bartlet and the cafuffle over her office in the first season. This woman should have been, by this point in her husband's career, an astute political animal. But she makes first year blunders that are really quite embarassing.

I really need to point out a few more points where The Wire kicks West Wing arse. But let's pause for a little Stringer Bell action.

The dialogue and the story lines. You think there's a lot of walking about and fast talking in the West Wing? Try figuring out the local dialects of Baltimore. Both black and white. Cop and stevedore. All-male and all-female groups. We regularly stop the DVD to try and figure out what's going on. What did he say? Who's that? What's going on now? There are zillions of characters, the story line is incredibly complicated, and there's a lot of talking. But it's all very satisfying, once you've figured out what's going on.

[spoiler alert: there's lots of spoiler action approaching]
Issues of class are dealt with in the most interesting ways. I was particularly struck by the parallels between McNulty's and Stringer Bell's struggles with class in the third season (which we've just finished watching). McNulty starts seeing (dating is too generous a term for this relationship) a well-connected white woman PR hound. She, essentially, uses him for his body. He tries, a couple of times, to hang out in her world - high powered political negotiations and shmoozing parties. He's left feeling stupid and clumsy. As he says at one point (and I must paraphrase), 'I'm the smartest guy in the western. But I couldn't keep up with what she was doing'. His street knowledge and truly formidable problem solving smarts were simply useless in that forum. He simply didn't have the social nous - or social skills to negotiate that space.

Similarly, Stringer Bell begins to move into real estate development, investing the massive amounts of money he's earnt dealing drugs. He begins to deal with the city housing officials and the complicated network of laws, bylaws and committees regulating building and industry in Baltimore (a journey paralleled by Cutty's attempts to found a boxing gym for young people, but that's another story). He fails, miserably, mostly because he simply doesn't speak the 'language' or know how to read the high-level machinations of this setting (spoiler alert: here's a nice clip where we see Stringer's frustrations played out).

Both are very intelligent men. Stringer Bell has been studying business at community college at night. McNulty is ferociously intelligent, and solves problems with a combination of terrier-tenacity and cutting smarts. Bell is perhaps the more impressive personality, managing a massive drug dealing business, organising the different local bosses into a cohesive network of businessmen. But he is hampered more clearly by his race when he tries to move between classes. Both are dealing with the greater challenges of class - of education, of not speaking the right language (or knowing how to negotiate language), of not walking or moving the right way. Even their physical experience with and relative comfort with physical violence becomes an impediment, confusing their responses to conflict. While neither does anything as ridiculous as start a fight, both use their physical threat - their posturing and willingness to physically mix it up - marring their efforts to deal with individuals and settings where violence is not at all appropriate.

This next clip is 100% spoiler. If you haven't seen season 3 or are considering watching the program, don't watch it. But it's an interesting comment on class in The Wire.

All of this is not discussed in snappy dialogue. It is expressed in a series of incidents, over a series of episodes. Both characters do spend time on exposition, but their articulation of their frustrations is in character - these are men who are also very much verbally competent. Their language skills are impressive. It's just that they're also contextually dependent and don't transfer to new settings terribly well.

The Wire is also impressive for the fact that it actually has queer characters who stick around.

There are dykes and fags, here, and they're not subscribing to gender or sexual stereotypes. Omar is a ruthless, fearless killer whose violence is triggered in large part as a response to the murder and torture of his lover. Kima is involved in a long term relationship with a lawyer and dealing with new parenthood (her relationship with McNulty is interesting - she's not interested in him sexually, but she's obviously drawn to his charismatic, chaotically destructive person and becomes increasingly like him in her behaviour). There are other queer characters who bend gender norms, but I can't give away too many spoilers.

Really, The Wire is fabulous television. And The West Wing fails.

"i have some problems with the west wing" was posted by dogpossum on September 22, 2008 11:32 PM in the category television and the wire and west wing

lovely blooz action

Firstly, I just wrote a decent version of this post then deleted it. Shit.

Ok, so I'll see what I can remember.

Firstly, you have to watch this clip below.
I think a lot of people think that blues dancing is just standing about cuddling to really slow music - sort of frottage on the hoof. But it's not. It's not that boring (and I have to say, there's nothing more boring than DJing that type of blues gig - booooring. Unless you're into voyeurism. But I guess even then you'd lose interest after about 4 hours). It's not. There's lots more fun stuff going on.

I think Blues Shout is on the top of my list of American camps I'd like to go to, right now. There's lots of interesting stuff going on there.
I blogged about this a little while ago with this great clip from 2007.

So what do I like about that latest clip?

1. body shapes. There's a lot more going on there than the muscle and sinew action we've been seeing in lindy hop lately as the tempos get really high. But there's no silly barbie frou-frou rubbish either. I keep thinking 'built for comfort'.

2. sass + sauce. The extreme sensuality, but also the radical parody. The snicker with the shimmy. I like the way you really have to bring it to make this work - you have to commit, physically and emotionally, and really perform to make the tension between humour and sexuality work.

3. hot and cool. The relationship between extremely hot bodies and very cool faces.

Well, with all that in mind, here's the set I did last night. It was quite a long set, which was nice (though a bit scary, as I really don't have that much music for blues dancing - just what I find on my 'lindy' CDs... hahahah... well, really, this is a good argument for buying CDs rather than downloading individual songs - with an album you get the whole emotional spectrum and a selection of songs by an artist, with one song you get ... just one song).
It was a lovely set to do, though I was fanging for a dance. I would have, perhaps, as this crowd is pretty laid back, but I don't feel confident enough to line up a few songs and then dance, with blues. I'm just not experienced enough to be sure it'll work. I ran through a whole range of styles, partly because my tastes are quite varied, but also because I think it's a better idea with a group of dancers who are newer to a style - give people a general taster. Also, I'm not sure I have enough music to do a solid speciality set. People really seemed to like it... I think. There's a lot more socialising and drinking here in Sydney than at Melbourne dance events, and that makes it harder to judge the crowd. Also, there were about six zillion chicks there last night, so there'd always be a lot of people sitting and watching.

A couple of notes about the music:
I've been exploring Taj Mahal lately. He's not my number one favourite, but you have to respect a legend. I've downloaded a couple of songs from his greatest hits albums from itunes, but I'm not sure I really need entire albums just yet. I'll think about it though, especially if I see them cheap at a shop.


I came in loud and proud, partly because I wanted to get the energy up and fun, rather than coming in all quiet and kissy. Most useful thing I've ever learnt about DJing blues was from Andy: keep it loud, like a party. Loud as in high energy. I also favour a little humour and sass in my blues, so I'm not much good with the overly earnest artists (though I do like a little Nina Simone).

There was a birthday dance, for which I chose 'Miss Celie's Blues'. I had a feeling the birthday girl would be into that Sistah action, and she was very happy with the choice.

jr.jpegPeople seemed to like 'New Orleans Bump'. I mean, I've played it before, but the reaction of dancers last night was more interesting than in the past. They were warmed up, which helped. They were feeling 'up', which helped. They'd had a couple of drinks, which helped. The class before hand (which was really quite interesting) was all about dancing to the music, and how to combine moves and types of movements to illustrate the music, and the dancers were all trying out the ideas all night. It made DJing a whole lot more interesting. But anyhow, people were experimenting with stuff in the percussion intro, and then they really seemed to dig the tango rhythms, and then were totally digging the 'drama' of the song - there were many campy dips and uber-emoting. Which is just perfect for Jelly Roll, who's all about making shit up and showing off.

I still don't feel that I'm a terribly good blues DJ. I feel as though I ignore tempos too much, and tend to ram songs together based on style, rather than working for a longer-range emotional wave. But there's a much smaller tempo range to work with (about 45-120bpm as opposed to 120-300 bpm for lindy) and you can't apply the usual rules about giving dancers a break 'cause they're tired. It's all slow, so you can just dance every single song, forever. I think I jump about, 'mood' wise, and that's not so cool. But I guess I just need more practice.

I don't much like Molly Johnson, but I do like it that she sounds like Masie Grey (sp?). She's really not as good as the old school chicks. But she doesn't suck. I bought a few of her songs from itunes after listening my way through most of her albums on amazon.

Every time I play Dinah Washington a woman asks me who that artist was. She goes down well with ladies. Because she rocks. I own a lot of Washington, but I still want this Mosaic set. Because.
Carol Ralph also always goes down well. People can't believe she's local. But she is. And that album is really very good - the musicians are top shelf. Not many Australians can pull off the sass/humour of those old school blues queens. But she can.

[title, artist, bpm, year, length, album, last played - NB there are some inaccurate dates as I just can't keep up with that data - I can't keep up with making sure all the dates are actually the recording dates and not the album release date. This is especially tricky because sometimes CDs' liner notes don't include recording details, especially if they're a cheap CD (like that Aretha greatist hits).]

Sleep in Late Molly Johnson 86 2002 2:47 Another Day 21/09/08 9:55 PM
Built for Comfort Taj Mahal 98 1998 4:46 In Progress & In Motion (1965-1998) 21/09/08 10:00 PM
Blues Stay Away George Smith 82 1955 3:10 Kansas City - Jumping The Blues From 6 To 6 21/09/08 10:03 PM
Confessin' The Blues Jimmy Witherspoon With Jay McShann And His Band 92 1957 4:16 Goin' To Kansas City Blues 21/09/08 10:08 PM
Bargain Day Dinah Washington 89 1956 2:55 The Swingin' Miss "D" 21/09/08 10:11 PM
Jealous Hearted Blues Carol Ralph 80 2005 3:48 Swinging Jazz Portrait 21/09/08 10:14 PM
Reckless Blues Velma Middleton with Louis Armstrong and the All Stars 88 2:30 The Complete Decca Studio Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars (disc 06) 21/09/08 10:17 PM
Rosetta Blues Rosetta Howard with the Harlem Hamfats 103 1937 3:00 History of the Blues - disc2 21/09/08 10:20 PM
Kitchen Blues Martha Davis 80 1947 3:05 BluesWomen Girls Play And Sing The Blues 21/09/08 10:23 PM
I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl Nina Simone 65 1967 2:33 Released 21/09/08 10:26 PM
Rangoon Cootie Williams 63 2:12 In Hi-Fi 21/09/08 10:28 PM
Goin' To Chicago Count Basie and His Orchestra with Jimmy Rushing 79 1952 3:22 Complete Clef/Verve Count Basie Fifties Studio Recordings (Disc 2) 21/09/08 10:31 PM
Incoherent Blues Clark Terry, Ed Thigpen, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown 64 1964 2:41 Oscar Peterson Trio + One: Clark Terry 21/09/08 10:34 PM
My Handy Man Ain't Handy No More Alberta Hunter 76 1978 3:49 Amtrak Blues 21/09/08 10:38 PM
I Feel Like Layin In Another Woman's Husband's Arms Blu Lu Barker 89 1946 2:57 Don't You Feel My Leg: Apollo's Lady Blues Singers 21/09/08 10:41 PM
I Ain't No Ice Man Cow Cow Davenport 89 1938 2:51 History of the Blues - disc2 21/09/08 10:43 PM
Tin Roof Blues Wingy Manone and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings 92 1934 2:58 The Wingy Manone Collection Vol. 2 21/09/08 10:46 PM
New Orleans Bump Wynton Marsalis 128 1999 4:36 Mr. Jelly Lord - Standard Time, Vol. 6 21/09/08 10:51 PM
St. James Infirmary Henry "Red" Allen 98 1991 3:45 World on a String - Legendary 1957 Sessions 21/09/08 10:55 PM
Wild Man Blues Louis Armstrong and the All Stars 75 3:58 The Complete Decca Studio Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars (disc 05) 21/09/08 10:59 PM
Do I Move You? (Second Version) (Bonus Track) Nina Simone 70 2006 2:20 Nina Simone Sings the Blues 21/09/08 11:01 PM
Shave 'em Dry Asylum Street Spankers 131 1997 4:21 Nasty Novelties 21/09/08 11:05 PM
Son Of A Preacher Man Aretha Franklin 77 3:16 Greatest Hits - Disc 1 21/09/08 11:09 PM
Soul of a Man Irma Thomas 121 2006 3:02 After the Rain 21/09/08 11:12 PM
Telephone Blues George Smith 68 1955 3:03 Kansas City - Jumping The Blues From 6 To 6 21/09/08 11:15 PM
Miss Celie's Blues Molly Johnson 97 2002 3:46 Another Day 21/09/08 11:19 PM
Back Water Blues Dinah Washington with Belford Hendricks' Orchestra 71 1957 4:58 Ultimate Dinah Washington 21/09/08 11:24 PM
Wee Baby Blues Count Basie with Mahalia Jackson 64 1968 3:14 Live In Antibes 1968 21/09/08 11:27 PM
Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You Count Basie and His Orchestra with Joe Williams 68 1957 2:32 The Count Basie Story (Disc 2) 21/09/08 11:30 PM
When The Lights Go Out Jimmy Witherspoon 100 1998 3:01 Jazz Me Blues: the Best of Jimmy Witherspoon 21/09/08 11:33 PM
The Mooche Michael McQuaid's Red Hot Rhythmakers 117 2006 3:41 Rhythm Of The Day 21/09/08 11:36 PM
Blue Leaf Clover Firecracker Jazz Band 111 2005 4:59 The Firecracker Jazz Band 21/09/08 11:41 PM
Sweet Home Chicago Taj Mahal 93 1998 3:15 In Progress & In Motion (1965-1998) 21/09/08 11:45 PM
Young Woman's Blues Loose Marbles 102 4:22 21/09/08 11:49 PM

"lovely blooz action" was posted by dogpossum on September 22, 2008 3:34 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music

September 21, 2008

old fat blokes making sweet, sweet jass

I'm off to DJ some blooz tonight, and have just paused to show The Squeeze on of the Best Things about youtube:

Live concerts by freakin' amazing musicians. This is Oscar Peterson and Count Basie playing lovely jazz. Basie was about a zillion years old then. Peterson has only passed away in the last couple of years.
This is a really nice song, and one I might consider playing for blooz dancers. Or lindy hoppers in a quiet moment. Either way, it's sweet listening and dancing.

I especially love the way the drummer is penned off in a little bubble. That's become drummers are Trouble and need to be kept away from the big kids.

"old fat blokes making sweet, sweet jass" was posted by dogpossum on September 21, 2008 10:06 PM in the category music

September 17, 2008

way better than ikea

Swedish engineering at its finest:

"way better than ikea" was posted by dogpossum on September 17, 2008 8:13 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

don't lindy hop when you've got your rags

I like the way this helpful clip doesn't even mention vaginas or blood, or well, actually give any useful information about menstruation itself. Apparently, your ovaries aren't really connected to your vagina in any way at all.

...the best bit, though, is where you're encouraged not to lindy hop when you've got your rags - just waltz. Certainly no tranky doo.

"don't lindy hop when you've got your rags" was posted by dogpossum on September 17, 2008 6:14 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

September 15, 2008

more cranky poo!

"more cranky poo!" was posted by dogpossum on September 15, 2008 1:32 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

badass monday

"badass monday" was posted by dogpossum on September 15, 2008 12:43 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances

September 14, 2008

wanted: nice iyengar yoga studio

I miss Frank.

I have just started looking for another Iyengar studio.
The Yoga Nook in Dulwich Hill is very close (only a quick bike ride away), although I did find this disturbing photo on its site:

The Squeeze doesn't think I should go there, just in case he comes home one evening to find me stuck in this pose on the lounge room floor. I share his concerns.

The Leichardt Yoga Room got me all excited with its name (almost but not quite the Rathdown Yoga Room), but it featured this photo on its site:
I'm fairly sure this is the pose that I hate most. My nemesis pose. It is my Captain Hammer. I frickin' hate backwards bending poses, and this is the worst. It hurts my back, it hurts my feet, it hurts my legs. I tend to get distressed doing this pose - heart rate elevated, panic! panic! - and need all the equipment in the room (every bolster, every wooden thing, every blanket) to attempt it. This usually means that I'm sitting upright with a bunch of blankets under my feet and a billion bolsters and other shit piled up behind me.
So I'm not sure I want to go there - I mean, if you love virasana that much, why don't you freakin' marry it? It is in Leichardt, though. Which is where the 'french' cafe is.

Really, I think I just want Frank to come to Sydney. Or I want another yoga studio specialising in Iyengar, long, complicated and incomprehensible explanations and Italian nonnas. In my experience, the best studios are also very not online. I've thought about Frank, I'm suddenly overcome by a wave of homesickness. I miss the smell of the yoga mats. Wait, I know how I can cheer myself up: with home made yoga. Down dog!

"wanted: nice iyengar yoga studio" was posted by dogpossum on September 14, 2008 10:55 PM in the category yoga

need greens

I need a good nursery. We walked through Petersham today and saw two (one in Lewisham - but I've decided Petersham and Lewisham are the same place, even though one has Sweet Belem and the old theatre/roller skating rink and one... doesn't), both were expensive, one was dodgy. It's nice looking at nurseries when it's been raining. There's a Bunnings in Ashfield, but they suck. I need one that delivers for a reasonable fee (not $48 thanks Bunnings!).

This is what I need:

- some bales of straw/sugar can mulch for mulching. Probably two bales, maybe three. $27 is too much, thanks.
- some plants. Cheapish. I'm after about 4 small lavenders, 4 rosemarys, at least 3 natives (grevillea, banksia, protea combo), a passionfruit vine, a pretty scented 'traditional' vine (jasmine, etc) and some other stuff, including citrus trees for pots
- some pots. I want seedling punnets. If I buy some seedlings I'll get some for free. But I don't want seedlings, I have my own - they are now fighting and trying to climb out the cramped conditions in the home-made greenhouse tub (rectangular clear plastic tub - perfect mini-greenhouse for seed sprouting, less than $10 each at BigW or a junk shop. Better than a bought one, as they stack properly in our small bathroom/laundry situation). I will also need a couple of large pots for the citrus. I want some small pots for the new seedlings as well
- some potting mix. Decent stuff, probably two bags at least.
- I could also be tempted by some tools (secateurs, etc)

I could do with a feed store for the mulch, but where will I find one of those in inner Sydney?

If anyone knows a decent nursery, I'll be your best friend forever. Must be within PT of Summer Hill.

"need greens" was posted by dogpossum on September 14, 2008 8:42 PM in the category greenies

why didn't anyone tell me?

bkr.jpg that Be Kind, Rewind is, essentially, an homage to Fats Waller?

I'm a big fan of Michel Gondry's films, and knew I'd like this one, but I've only just had a chance to chase it down on DVD. First, Mos Def + Jack Black = yes! But then, BKR is far more than just a dumb film about videos: it's a film about Fats Waller!
Also, it's a story about the way people tell each other stories. I really liked the emphasis on people enjoying telling each other stories - made up or not - to which everyone can contribute.
And, then, even more awesomely, the characters make a fan-fic film about Fats Waller's life. It's fully awesome.
My other favourite bit was the montage filmed in 'real time' - omg.


I recommend watching the extras on the DVD - they have a full version of the Fats film.

Also: the Fats film references real archival footage of Fats - little soundies he made. And that is absolutely fully sick, because of course, the BKR is all about a couple of blokes (and then more people) who 'remake' famous films from memory and on a tight budget - so the film is all about 'remaking' found footage.
It's all so close to my stuff on what swing dancers do with archival footage, it just about made me swoon.


...also, I'm sorry this post is only semi-coherent. It seems today is not a day for words. It is a day for action.

"why didn't anyone tell me?" was posted by dogpossum on September 14, 2008 12:15 PM in the category fillums and lindy hop and other dances

September 12, 2008

see that? that's me, djing


That's me DJing at... hm... not sure where. MLX? Probably - looks like a set list there next to me, and I'd've been doing band breaks.

A good friend, Scott (big, not scribbler) took that photo. See my hand - it's tappa-tapping. I'm actually DJing, right there, in that photo.

See my generous bum, hips and legs? That's professional DJing gear, that - for when you do 4-hour late-night sets. I could stand, but that'd suck after a while.

See those headphones? They're sennheisers. And the best bit about them is that they reduce sound, so I can put them on if I'm finding it all a bit noisy. But don't tell anyone - they think I'm previewing. In that photo, I think I am previewing, because you can see DJ1800, which I use to preview.

See that microphone, there? I don't use them. I'm afraid of them. Also, you can see my imic - a tiny little external sound card. It's round and white. You can also almost see my green and red alligator necklace - that's the most important accessory in this photo.

I wish I was sitting up properly in this photo. Right now I have a sore right arm from DJing at a table that was too high for me. I look at this photo and think about how great the sound set up is at MLX - the bestest ever, of any of the places I've ever DJed. Brian yells at you if you touch the set up. And justifiably so, I guess. Some people need a good yelling at - some DJs in particular. Especially the ones with alligator necklaces. But that's mostly because they a) have work-place related industrial deafness, or b) have forgotten to take their ear plugs out.

Another thing about that photo - I remember doing that set in something of a rush-and-panic. You can't DJ on a weekend you're running, even if you're not running that night. Well, I can't - there's always something that needs fixing, or someone who needs your help. The best was that same exchange, when I was DJing in one room, the DJ from the other room came in and was all, "hey, who's DJing after me?" about 10 minutes (3 songs) before their set ended. I was all "woah, shit. How will I fix this?" I reassured the other DJ I'd fix it, if he wouldn't mind doing an extra 10 mins or so if it took a while, set up a song, then ran to find out who was rostered on to DJ next. Then I went back, set up another song, checked the sound, etc, and ran to find the missing DJ. He was asleep on a beanbag. Then I woke him up, scolded him, and sent him to DJ. I assume it worked out ok - he was in there DJing when I finished my set. It was about 3am, so he shouldn't have been asleep - he should have been dancing!

But that's the thing about DJing - you know where the music comes from, so there's no more mystery. And it is possible to drink and DJ. I once saw a DJ drink a rum and coke, a beer, a scotch and dry and then another beer in 15 minutes, while he was DJing. Then he ran a competition, then he had another beer. I was all 'woah, he's brave. I wouldn't leave an open drink near my laptop like that." But then, I guess he didn't let them sit there long enough to risk a spill.

The most important thing I've learnt about DJing? Go to the little DJs' room before you start a set.

"see that? that's me, djing" was posted by dogpossum on September 12, 2008 8:03 PM in the category djing


when other people are DJing, I feel like this:

Sometimes, when I am DJing and trying to talk to a friend, I do turn the music down. Because there are Priorities, aren't there?

"sometimes" was posted by dogpossum on September 12, 2008 7:51 PM in the category djing

it could just be that nerds - no matter their flavour - love to talk to other nerds about stuff they love

I've been crapping on about DJing on the SwingDJs board. I started a thread called mad skillz: mentoring, encouraging and skilling up (new) DJs. As with all threads I've begun with long, expository posts that don't really make much sense and which tend to be far to theoretical, the thread has been languishing. Kind of like my tutorials when I ask a long question which is really a bit of exposition or otherwise impossible to answer.
But someone asked a question which caught my interest, so I'm going to answer it here, at length.

I made this comment (in a post that was far too long):

One thing I've noticed - if a scene values social dancing and has quite a tight community vibe, there's a strong emphasis on skilling up new DJs. But the local culture dictates how this skilling up is achieved.
(Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 20:40, first page of the thread at URL above)
And Haydn replied:
Can I ask you - in practice, how does this 'tight community vibe' translate into DJs helping each other?

I'm going to answer this at length here, rather than cluttering up that discussion board with my own opinions/rambles.

I have to reiterate: I'm working largely from an Australian perspective, with only a bit of international experience. I'm sure things are vary in different places.

'A tight community vibe' needn't actually translate into DJs helping each other. I don't see it very often, but I'm sure there've been times when a DJ has made it difficult for a new DJ or experienced DJ to 'break into' a scene - to preserve their own status, to preserve their own profits, etc.
Also, definitions of 'community' (and who's actually considered part of that community) are ideologically and politically loaded. Do you count west coast swing dancers as part of your 'swing' community? Rock and rollers? People from other dance schools/studios? Musicians? People you don't know?
When I say a 'tight community vibe', I'm thinking about scenes where people articulate some sense of 'communitas' or identify themselves as part of a scene or community with some sort of pride, protectiveness, etc.

But how might that translate to DJs helping each other?

Well, if a local scene has an active social club or organisation who also run social events, then that club might have an incentive to manage DJs quite carefully - so new DJs will get a bit of mentoring or coaching. I've noticed that gigs run by a smaller more coherent group - or by one person, or coordinated by someone who really cares about the DJing/social dancing - often manage the DJs more carefully. If the night is only one of many, is managed by an inexperienced dancer (or DJ) or isn't actually 'valued' terribly highly, the DJing might be less strictly managed. Also, interestingly, if an event (or club) has a particularly fervent revivalist bent (ie they're really really really into historical 'accuracy'), they're also pretty anal about music and about 'teaching' their DJs to like the 'right' music. But people might 'manage' DJs for other reasons - nepotism, interpersonal rivalries, failed romances, burning desires, professional networking, etc - all might affect who hires whom for which gigs.

I've noticed that these trends increase as a scene develops - in a newer scene, for example, where there are fewer DJs, there's less 'regulation' of DJing: people are just happy to have someone play some music. As DJing becomes increasingly 'professionalised' or formalised in a scene (eg introducing pay rates, introducing a DJ roster, introducing preferences for particular types of music), then it becomes more 'regulated'. It can also become less accessible. I've wondered if this is as a scene or community grows it also develops increasingly complex modes of cultural production and management (whether we're talking DJing, dancing, dress making, event management, website design, whatever). Also, people figure out that formalised ways of working together can be useful on large projects - a camp has 'rules' for teachers (whether unspoken or not), an exchange is run by a group who become a nonprofit organisation to deal with tax and insurance, a social night has formal (or informally enforced) 'no aerials' rules for public safety.

What I've noticed (and I guess I'm talking about Australian examples, and only very vaguely in reference to the US, etc) is that if a local scene has quite a close community - ie people volunteering their time for events, events run by committees with a 'community development' agenda and ethos rather than (or in addition to) a profit motive, etc - then there's a greater interest in 'skilling up' DJs - for the community's benefit. More experienced DJs are more likely to volunteer to mentor new DJs in that context out of a spirit of 'communitas' or 'doing good stuff for the community'.

There are other reasons for managing new DJs, though - profit motive is a good one, especially if you're in a scene where dancers really value or care about the quality of DJing. Or plain old competition for cultural capital - a DJ might feel it's in their interests to discourage new DJs or to not open their night to new DJs (ie they want to keep their status and ward off competitors). If a particular event has a specific musical focus (eg it might want to showcase a particular musical style or moment in history), then there'd also be reason to manage the DJs - if you were (for example), interested in running a 'neo revival' night, you might favour DJs who play BBVD, etc, and not hire DJs who play old school exclusively. I've even played gigs where what I've looked like - on stage - has been important: wearing vintage gear was specifically requested... which leads to interesting questions about the 'performance' of DJing. And how we might 'perform' the role of 'vintage music fan' or 'swing dancer = vintage costume fan' for an audience of non-dancers, for example. [That last bit is interesting in the light of things like the Facebook group 'Embracing my embarrassing swing adolescence' which seems largely to be about aesthetics and protocols of swing dance fashion - ie what not to wear]

There's also another interesting aspect to all this. Throughout much of the academic literature dealing with online communities, authors note the importance of 'answering questions', especially in an established and well-moderated online 'community'. People might answer questions for a number of reasons: to help out; to demonstrate their own knowledge (and status); to test their own knowledge; to enter into the discussion (and hence participate in the community - basically, answering simply as a way of getting into the conversation and enjoying the process of answering and discussing questions); etc etc etc.

I've always been interested in noticing what type of people answer what types of questions in swing dance discussion boards. In the years I was gathering data for my doctoral thesis (and before), I was really surprised by some of my findings. Sure, the data suggested all this stuff, but I was really hoping to find that how we play online wasn't so tightly bound to gender. But I found that female posters tend to be quicker to offer assistance (eg hosting, info, etc), but that they mightn't do so publicly (they're almost always over-represented in offering condolences, giving positive feedback, compliments and proffering kind words generally). Men are more likely to post 'information' or 'facts', and to disagree. There are exceptions, but on the whole these tropes are consistent, and they also correlate with the way we talk in groups face to face. I'm also interested in the way the threaded discussion echoes 'formal turn taking' in a meeting - which is something all-male groups tend to favour (whereas women tend to favour a more casual, more interrupting/cooperative meaning-making approach). There are also ethnic issues at work here - I was at a fascinating book launch the other day for indigenous literacy day: the speeches and discussion was very very different to the usual middle class 'literati' book launch: a room full of koori ladies don't really do formal turn taking :D.

This is partly to do with how we're socialised (which of course will result in regional variations), but also to do with the social/cultural context of online communication, especially on something like a discussion board. I've been wondering how Facebook changes all that, especially as it's far more accessible than something like a discussion board.

All this might mean, in the context of DJs helping each other, that women are more likely to answer questions via private message or to ask for help via private message, and less likely to post publicly on the board generally. It also suggests that people post answers and 'help each other' for a range of reasons.
SwingDJs is a tricky case study as DJing generally is so male-dominated: there are more men posting regularly here than women, for example (which could be a result of the culture of online communication rather than directly correlating to the number of women DJs IRL).

Something I've noticed: experienced DJs, no matter what their gender, are generally very helpful and welcoming to new DJs. They mightn't be very good at actually helping or communicating their welcome, but they certainly want to be helpful and care about this stuff. This might be a trickle-on effect from the revivalist impulses of contemporary swing dance generally - there's this impetus towards 'recruiting' new dancers, so as to 'preserve' historic dance forms.

Or it could just be that nerds - no matter their flavour - love to talk to other nerds about stuff they love.

" it could just be that nerds - no matter their flavour - love to talk to other nerds about stuff they love" was posted by dogpossum on September 12, 2008 6:15 PM in the category djing and ideas and lindy hop and other dances and music

September 10, 2008

speed on!

The doc suggested I try some decongestants to help my inner ears clear up (they regularly fill up with goo after I get heinous cold). So we went old school and now I'm taking Sudafed during the day. I can't take it at night.
Basically, it's turned me into a speedfreak. I'm trembling, I feel like I'm just about to deliver a lecture all the time and I have a few anxiety issues. Well, not real ones (I'm actually feeling pretty mellow), but I'm trembling, my heart is thumping and... well, my nose is running.

The most interesting part of all this? I can breathe through both nostrils, no wucks. I hadn't realised til yesterday that I haven't been able to breathe freely through both nostrils with my mouth closed in years. It's a bit weird. I can't help but wonder how this will help my dancing. Will I become an oxygen-rich bio-machine? Will I run faster, jump higher? And then crash, as my system compensates for this excessive performance, systems going into fuckdown mode, body eating its own muscles to replace the energy used in brief bursts of supersonic, arsekickingly sweet solo jazz?


Thankfully, the doc also checked my blood pressure - it's perfect. So perfect, she commented a few times. I think that my winter-padding led her to believe I was actually At Risk. But she, of course, is unaware of the fitness-inducing effects of the cranky poo.

Also, I have gotten back into the cranky poo. I now remember the first half. I will work on the second half today, now that I've done the prep for teaching this week. Then I will be a gun.
Then I will go back to the Big Schnapple and see if I can finally figure out the second half of that.

It's kind of nice having a memory like a sieve - everything old is new again.

And while we're talking endorphine-charged speedfreakin' old-is-new badassery... the jitterbug contest from Keep Punchin'. If you look real close, you can see me:

"speed on!" was posted by dogpossum on September 10, 2008 1:37 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances and mood swings


I have had some serious problems with spamming lately, so disabled the comments functions on this blog. But I've just changed this so people can comment, they just have to wait til I approve the comment.
I'd have a look for an alternative method, but I don't have time, sorry. :D

"comments?" was posted by dogpossum on September 10, 2008 12:37 PM in the category dogpossum

the perfect hue

I found amazing 'blackout' curtains at the spotlight in Bondi for only $40 (75% off). They are stunningly effective, something which pleases a person who regularly goes to bed very late and needs to sleep during the day.

They are also the shade of a crushed-strawberry fruit drink.

I also have a pink chenille bedspread (also courtesy of spotlight, only $20, the colour of strawberry milkshakes, deliciously fuzzy and nice).

Over the bed I have hung a small square quilt that I made from remnants left after making three different dresses. These dresses were maroon needle cord, plum shot-silk-looking cotton and a complicated pink rose pattern.

The Squeeze declared that the room now looks like the inside of ripe fruit.

"the perfect hue" was posted by dogpossum on September 10, 2008 12:23 PM in the category domesticity

September 9, 2008

good things

Prawns, and their cheapness here.

The sunshine. All of it. One, maybe two days of rain, then it's over and it's back to sun. Yes.

The remnant warehouse. Oh Goddess, yes.

Rosetta Howard, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday.

The beach. Here, this town, it has the beach. It has real sand, real surf, real water. It is amazing on a clear day.

Sprouted seeds: go, seedies, go!

"good things" was posted by dogpossum on September 9, 2008 9:58 PM in the category digging

September 5, 2008

organic farming in difficult places

Read this fascinating blog about organic farming in Kiberia - remaking garbage dumps into gardens (follow the links to the 'Kiberia slum' especially).

Then read this awesome article about keyhole gardens or make a freakin' neat bag garden with this little chick from Uganda:

Or you can make you own keyhole garden (via Send a Cow).

I'm getting into this action at the moment as we have a decent garden which I'm planning to build up with some herbs, some natives and possibly some veggies (though, realistically, herbs + a couple of citrus trees will fare better with us). Our landlord is a bit particular about the house, though, so I have to give a plan of where I want it/what I want to plant to the real estate agent. I am still deciding (that's the best bit, really), so I'm delaying. Meanwhile there're a zillion seeds germinating (hopefully!) in our bathroom, and we've put in a compost bin - without permission!

There are two flats in this house (a front and a back one), and we only have two bins between us (one recycling, one general waste - still no freakin' green waste bin!), so we need to keep our waste to a minimum. We find that with composting and generally avoiding massively packaged food (which we should all do anyway - nasty sugar, salt, artificial shit - don't buy that prepackaged pasta sauce - make your own! Don't buy skanky jarred sauces - make your own! They taste better and they're much better for you), we don't produce much garbage generally. Between the two flats we're not filling our bins each week anyway.

I'd really like to get to a market or even a nursery to buy some plants, but we don't have a car, so it's going to be a challenge getting the mofos home. But we've hoiked heaps of shit home in our backpacks before, so we're not afraid. I'd also like a few bales of straw to mulch the garden beds, but that might be even more ambitious. Frankly, I'm thinking about getting into growing my own mulch - cheaper, easier. There are a few seed options, but I want to think about it carefully first.

Any how, here's my seed/plant list (btw, I buy all my seeds from eden seeds - gotta love those hippies with their 24 hour turnaround:

passionfruit vine: fast growing, good screening plant, lovely flowers, great fruit (and I want to try a variety that likes these warmer climes)
lemon tree (pot or ground, but probably pot)
kaffir lime tree (same)
lime tree (same)

Some native action:
I'm thinking small trees (our garden is sloped and I want to screen the front rooms from the (busy) road - probably banksia, grevillea, etc. I'd like to use stuff indigenous to this area, though, so I'll have to do some research. I'd also like to add in some smaller plants - grasses and things that smaller birds like.
So we're looking at about 4 small trees (I'm thinking 5m max), some shrubs (4 maybe) and some grasses (as many tubes as I can afford, in as many types as I can find). All low-water ones. I'm also keen for some sort of vine (a climber not a sucker) to twine up the front steps. There are a couple of natives I quite like, but I'm considering something 'traditional' and quite strongly scented, as it's a 'federation' type house, and really needs a 'traditional' element, even if I do go nuts with the natives.
The other week we were at the Ashfield shopping centre (checkin' out the new hood), and the council had a stall where they were giving away 'free trees'. Your average punter is never hugely interested in these - they think they're being sold something. But I've seen council stooges doing this before, and I have a scam: I make them give me as many as I can before they start to balk. So we scored 3 or 4 tiny tubes of anonymous natives. I have planted them in the garden, discovering the dirt is gorgeous.

Any how, I'd put the natives in the front part of the garden, and the herbs and veggies up the side. The side is quite sloped, which is nice - good drainage. I'm considering some sort of decorative mass-planting approach: eg using a few lemon grass plants as a feature, a few rosemary plants as a low hedge up the path, lavender under the clothes line (smells good on the laundry!), some masses of parsley (I'm really fond of parsley as an ornamental - it's so green and fiesty, and comes in a few useful varieties. I also use it a lot in cooking), and of course a heap of oregano, basil, mint, marjoram. This time I'm going to take care with different species of mint and with the oregano/marjoram - those fuckers are incestuous and you end up with a general mass of 'plant'. I'd also like a couple of chilli plants.
I am a little bit interested in growing some ginger - it could be warm enough here. They have a whole big garden bed of native ginger at the university, so I'm going to casually hack out a heap of shoots one afternoon and take them home to pot (I'm wary of putting it into the ground as it can go nuts). I am going to brazen my way out of any challenges: "it's ok, I'm staff, this is for a class on indigenous food, nothing to see here."

Seeds I've planted in the home made greenhouse (just get a plastic tub from Big W, and fill it with the little seedling planter things - punch a few holes in the tub, but tape them over when you don't want moisture getting out):
parsley (flat Italian)
sweet basil
bush or European basil
Thai basil
lemon grass
some lavender cuttings
garlic chives
... and something else.

I don't actually have much hope for my seeds, as I've gotten really slack and useless with germinating seeds (not like in the olden days), but still. Seeds are best, as you get nice, tough plants, and it's about $2 for a pack of seeds that'll make a zillion plants, as opposed to $5 for a pot of a couple of pathetic young plant that've been abused and force-grown in scary mass greenhouse situations. But I think I'm going to need to go to the nursery for some stuff.

Incidentally, we haven't actually broken ground on the garden beds. Why not, when spring is so obviously upon us (and my, it's nice being back in the subtropics, where there're proper 'wet' and 'dry' seasons, not this bullshit 'European' type seasonal arrangement)? Well, partly because I'm trying to figure my way through some sort of raised bed arrangement - it's always a good option. I've been on the lookout for railway sleepers (less ambitious than you might think - we're near a railway yard - more ambitious than people without cars should be, perhaps), old bricks, etc. I'm wondering if I'm hardcore enough to flog bricks from building sites - I've seen a few lying about. I know it's wrong, but well, I just don't care. My main concern is not getting caught. As I did today on the bus with my 'student' bus ticket. Damn.*

Have I mentioned that I now work three jobs?
1. working at the lovely bookshop.
2. DJing
3. teaching stoods at the Big Rich G8 Uni

I like all of them, but teaching is currently no.3, because I'm not sure academia is for me any more. Working at the bookshop is no.1, mostly because there are a lot of books there, the people I work with are lovely, and ... well, there are BOOKS there. It's not a chain store.
DJing is second, because I get to play music that I like. That's great. This job pays crapperly, but teaching has the worst hours and most exploitative working conditions.
Teaching is interesting when it's going well, but I'm not enjoying the broader institutional structures. I'm having trouble adjusting to a G8.

Also, I am thinking of becoming a professional explorer (kind of like this, but more with the arse kicking), because I am good at reading maps and walking. I think I'll make The Squeeze be my Tenzing Norgay, because he is both strong and brave. He is also aesthetically pleasing, which I think will help when we are somewhere particularly inhospitable. Like North Sydney. Having conquered all of Paramatta Road from Summer Hill to Glebe, our next expedition will be to either the Glebe Markets or the Burwood Markets. We will need to employ pack ponies, I think.

*the stooge at the campus newsagent gave me the wrong ticket and I only noticed once I was on the bus. Then I just kept throwing them craps til the 5-0 busted me today. I didn't cry, but I did try the 'poor tourist' card. The man was very nice, but also very strict. But it was the most hardcore bust I've ever been in - I'm surprised no one was gunned down by The Man. About 20 cops/traffic gumbies stood in the road (in the CBD!) and waved down the buses, then boarded and did a spot ticket/pass search. Any dodgy action, and we were off the bus, onto the curb. Then the bus was waved on, and we were left there on the side of the road with millions of The Man. But I didn't cry. I considered it as a scam, but changed tack. Mostly I was worried I'd be late for my horrid 9am start. But I got there in time, escaping with a $100 fine. Dumbly, I failed to give an inaccurate address - I could've gotten away with it as my ID was all Victorian. But I don't think I'm hardcore enough for that shit. So I took my fine like a badass and got on the next bus they waved down and strip searched.

"organic farming in difficult places" was posted by dogpossum on September 5, 2008 10:26 PM in the category greenies

you know the inspector gadget theme?

It's actually ripped from a song called 'Zonky'.

You know this song is a Fats Waller/Andy Razaf gem.

I would have illustrated this post with a picture Inspector Gadget, but I used google with the safety switch off and am now feeling a bit distressed (not to mention confused).

"you know the inspector gadget theme?" was posted by dogpossum on September 5, 2008 5:55 PM in the category music


this lack of fabric shops is killing me. Yes, I has no self expression.

This is becoming an issue as I'm dropping some girth (owing in part to the lack of bike riding and excess of walking): most of my trousers are now held up with safety pins. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so diligent in lightening my load before we moved. Thank goodness I didn't get rid of those golden/beigh beighe fuck, how do you spell that? Anyhow, those cordurouy ... fuck. Spelling, he no here. Anyway: good thing I kept those pants, right?!

Thankfully, it is now warmer here. The summer is so short. People are still wearing scarves (though I've only found it cold enough to warrant it twice in the two months we've been here, and that was at night), coats, etc. I mock them in my tshirt (and ill-fitting trousers).
Soon I will be wearing shorts and sundresses. Then I will have to be naked most days, once summer comes. Hopefully I will have acclimatised by then. My students (yes, I'm tutoring atm - at a BIG RICH G8 UNIVERSITY - another country after the small, povvy one in Melbourne) would be far to frightened by my over 20, comfortably insulated self. And we must protect the kiddies, mustn't we?


"also" was posted by dogpossum on September 5, 2008 5:05 PM in the category old sew and sew

things i've noticed

about eating out in Sydney:

- They are all about banana bread. I like it.

- On the whole, service in cafes is very ordinary - Melbourne does beat them out by a long yard on this. The number of times I've had to ask for water, for cutlery... and - this is the worst - there's often no table service. That last one kind of blows my brain. I'm kind of wondering if it's because Sydneysiders are generally friendlier and more laid back than Melbournians? I think it's the warmer climate challenging a rigorous approach to service.*

- They have freakin' AWESOME Thai food here.

- There are weird laws about licensing, so most places are BYO. I don't drink, but it feels a little... less cosmpolitan... less grown up than Melbourne? This reminds me of Qld. I'm not sure it's a good thing to be reminded of Bjelke-Peterson Qld.

- Pineapples, out of season, are always under $5. Civilization, at last.

- They don't have a proper, community pub culture. Most pubs are full of pokies, shitful cheap furniture and crappy beer. Also, they advertise '$5 pastas!!!' No thanks. I think I need to find a pub run by a nice middle aged gay man, where the food is good, the bar staff are friendly, and there are no pokies. Where will we meet our friends for a quick 'arf on Sunday afternoon?

- The seafood is sweet.

- There are a few too many places serving hot drinks in cups without handles. I can handle that in a French cafe, but it's just bullshit when we're talking cups of tea. This made me irrationally angry at 7am this morning as I waited for my train.

- There are far too few places selling decent gelati. This does not please me - perhaps emigrating was a mistake? Same goes for pide - people just buy 2, 3, 4 day old pide like it's ok. Maybe they just don't understand? Perhaps I am just not checking out the right suburbs?

- They have tiny steamed buns that are then pan-fried. This is apparently a Shanghai thing. I like them, which is strange, as I don't much care for steamed buns generally. I think it's because they're smaller.

Generally, I approve of fewd in Sydney. But I think they need to think more about their indoors recreation. Less with the giant flat screen tellies, more with the badass service. I don't mind if it's surly, so long as it's quick and efficient.

[*Edit: I make this startling generalisation based on a sample size of about 20.]

"things i've noticed" was posted by dogpossum on September 5, 2008 4:37 PM in the category fewd

September 3, 2008

oh goodness me: the new orleans jazz vipers

But I do like the New Orleans Jazz Vipers.

They play olden days music with a nasty olden days energy that gets me all excited. I can't wait to DJ this stuff.
I couldn't help but buy all their CDs from And I love shopping at CDbaby - they got these kids to me in about 10 days from the States, they send nice thank you emails, and they pimp indy music. There're quite a few artists I like DJing who sell their gear through CDbaby - Gordon Webster, who's a really great pianist and also a nice guy and a lindy hopper. I've had my eye on that CD for a while - that's some sweet action for blues dancing. His other half (oh, how they'd hate me describing them that way), Solomon Douglas is also sold through CDbaby... I can't think of any others just now, but I've bought a few CDs through them.

And I love love love these Vipers CDs. I also have my eye on a Tshirt.

"oh goodness me: the new orleans jazz vipers" was posted by dogpossum on September 3, 2008 12:25 AM in the category digging and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music