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July 24, 2010

google, you're amazing

Posted by dogpossum on July 24, 2010 6:01 AM | Comments (0)

I couldn't remember the name of a good film I saw ages ago. Well, it wasn't that good, but the dancing (stepping and a few other bits and pieces) was. This is what I typed in. That's the film there, the second result. That's amazing.

"google, you're amazing" was posted in the category fillums

February 16, 2010

magazine themed jazz prn

Posted by dogpossum on February 16, 2010 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

Magazine-themed prn from the 'Jam Session' pics in the Google/Life set Gjon Mili did for Esquire:


(NB that little group in the bottom left hand corner are from Vogue magazine.)

Mili of course made Jumpin' the Blues, and also this freekin great clip of rockstars:

"magazine themed jazz prn" was posted in the category cat blogging and fillums and lindy hop and other dances and music and research

lists and canons in jazz

Posted by dogpossum on February 16, 2010 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

An interesting discussion has cropped up on SwingDJs called "30 Good Hot Records" from LIFE. This is what I'm about to post in response.

I love lists of iconic or 'good' songs/books/films/texts. I love them because though they are presented as definitive, they are always[ more effective as a provocation than a definitive answer to questions about what counts and is important enough to be listed. Discograhies work, pretty much, as definitive 'lists' or 'canons'.

I've come across a few different uses of 'hot' in articles and books from the 1930s, particularly in reference to discographies. Kenney's discussion of jazz in Chicago outlines the differences between 'jazz' or 'hot' bands and music and 'dance' bands. These differences are not only musical, but also inflected by race, class, the recording industry, live venue management and ownership, gender... and so on. I've also come across quite a few discussions in an academic (rather than populist or 'music critic') sources about the expression 'hot jazz'. The most useful sources point out that any attempt to finally define 'hot' or 'jazz' is not only difficult, but also problematic.

Krin Gabbard discusses the cultural effects of constructing canons - in which discographies play a key role - and points out that lists of 'hot' or 'important' or 'real' jazz records aren't neutral or objective lists of songs - they are highly subjective and negotiated by the author's own ideas about music and place in society generally.

Kenney (who's written some absolutely fascinating stuff about jazz music in Chicago in the 20s) discusses Brian Rust's discographies, making the point that Rust distinguishes between 'hot' and other types of jazz recordings. Friedwald talks a bit about Rust (and other discographers) in his articles. Kenney's research into the recording and live music industry in Chicago suggests that who got to record or play what types of music was actually dictated in large part by record companies' ideas about race and class and markets rather than musicians' personal inclination. That last point suggests that you could make some interesting observations about the correlation between race, class, recorded songs, 'popularity' and 'jazz' in Chicago jazz during this period. I don't know enough about it, though, so all I'll say is that you could, but you'd better have some badass sources to support your arguments. And you'd also better be prepared to accept the idea that though America had a national music industry, different state legislations and music cultures resulted in quite different local practices: it'd be tricky to generalise Chicago's story across other cities and states. Not to mention countries.

Life and other magazines' comments on and participation in music promotion in the 30s is also pretty interesting - these guys had ideological barrows to push, just as did Rust and other discographers. One of the effects of publishing this type of list (which was no doubt as hotly contested then as it is now - except by a wider audience :D) is that it does stimulate discussion and debate. And, hopefully, record and ticket sales. One thing I'd be interested in knowing is who owned Life As an example, every time I see that Great Day In Jazz photo, I think about the fact that it was a photo for Esquire magazine, and that Esquire also produced a series of live concerts, recordings... and of course, photo spreads in magazines. While GDIJ works a fabulous representation of jazz it also serves as a canon, and as such is also subjective, ideologically framed and interpreted (eg asking why are there so few women in this photo leads us to questions about gender and jazz?) Canons are fascinating things, and can be the jumping off place for all sorts of great discussions and debates. I think this is why I was so excited by Reynaud's session on Yehoodi Radio where he used the GDIJ photo as an organising structure for the music he chose. In that case, the photo became a listening guide for a radio program. I'd just rather not use them as definitive, fixed lists; I like them more as provocations, or a place from which to begin discussing (and arguing about) a topic.

If I saw a list like the one in Life today, I'd be extra-suspicious. Songs on So You Think You Can Dance, for example, are owned by the company which produces that tv show. There's been quite a lot written about the Ken Burns' Jazz series and its role in cross-promoting sales of records from catalogues owned by the same media corporation. The Ken Burns example is an especially interesting one: that series does not present an 'objective' list of important artists and songs. It is a jumping off place for a very successful marketing project surrounding back catalogues and contemporary musicians like Marsalis. George Lipsitz has written quite a bit about histories of jazz (including Burns'), and he makes this point:

...the film is a spectator's story aimed at generating a canon to be consumed. Viewers are not encouraged to make jazz music, to support contemporary jazz artists, or even to advocate jazz education. But they are urged to buy the nine-part home video version of Jazz produced and distributed by Time Warner AOL, the nearly twenty albums of recorded music on Columbia/Sony promoting the show's artists and 'greatest hits,' and the book published by Knopf as a companion to the broadcast of the television program underwritten by General Motors. Thus a film purporting to honor modernist innovation actually promotes nostalgic satisfaction. The film celebrates the centrality of African Americans to the national experience but voices no demands for either rights or recognition on behalf of contemporary African American people. The film venerates the struggles of alienated artists to rise above the formulaic patterns of commercial culture, but comes into existence and enjoys wide exposure only because it works so well to augment the commercial reach and scope of a fully integrated marketing campaign linking 'educational' public television to media conglomerates. (17)

Lipsitz is interesting because he says thinks like Why not think about jazz as a history of dance? Why not look into the lives of musicians who gave up fame and fortune in massively famous bands to work in their local communities?

Friedwald, Will. "On Discography", May 27, 2009

Gabbard, Krin. "The Jazz Canon and its consequences" Jazz Among the Discourses. Duke U Press, Durham and London 1995. 1-28.

Kenney, William Howland. "Historical Context and the Definition of Jazz: Putting More of the History in 'Jazz History'". Jazz Among the Discourses. Duke U Press, Durham and London 1995. 100-116

Lipsitz, George. "Songs of the Unsung: The Darby Hicks History of Jazz," Uptown Conversation: the new Jazz studies, ed. Robert O'Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004: 9-26.

References for my posts on Esquire.

"lists and canons in jazz" was posted in the category cat blogging and djing and fillums and lindy hop and other dances and music and research

July 7, 2009

violence and film and blues

Posted by dogpossum on July 7, 2009 1:21 PM | Comments (1)

Reading Gussow's book about racial violence in southern America, I wonder why I keep coming back to violence. My honours thesis discussed female violence in film, and this book really is about violence in blues music. Both are about violence from the perspective of the disempowered; one discussing women, one black men and women in America.
I'm not comfortable with this stuff - I don't like stories about violence, I don't like watching it in film. But both seem linked to hopelessness. Violence for the women in the films I discussed was a last resort or an act of desperation. In the blues songs I'm reading about now, violence is either to be borne or to be perpetrated in revenge or rage or desperation. Both are domestic or carried out in ordinary, everyday spaces.
In my honours thesis I was interested in what happened to female characters when their acts of violence were institutionalised or sanctioned by institutions in the role of assassin. In these blues songs, we are continually reminded that white men were perpetrators of violence which was ignored by the state or unofficially condoned - or at least ignored. These acts of violence contrast clearly with the violence of waged war. I'm interested in the way some types of violence are sanctioned by the community and some not. And who gets to enact this 'sanctioned' violence. You know, of course, that class and gender and race are at work here.

One of the other elements of these representations of violence is the role of fantasy, or imagined violence. In the blues song, it might be an imagined retribution for a lover's deceit, or for a lynching. Music allows the playing out of ideas or fantasies, and the public performance of this music encourages an attentive, participatory audience. It is not enough simply to imagine; it is necessary that the imagined violence be laid out and commented upon by the broader community.

"violence and film and blues" was posted in the category fillums and ideas and music and research

July 5, 2009

things i have done regularly lately

Posted by dogpossum on July 5, 2009 9:53 PM | Comments (5)

Cooked a large piece of meat in milk for a long period of time. Pork, chicken, whatever. I'll cook it, you can eat it.

While searching blindly in my backpack, felt something soft and hanky-like, pulled it out and discovered it was a single maxi-sized pad*. This has happened: at the bi-lo checkout with a middle aged woman cashier, trying to pay for bread with a cocky indie boy salesman, rummaging for cables at the DJ booth while sitting next to a very-christian tech-dood (this happened twice in one weekend with two different christians), looking for a hanky, desperately, while trying to obscure a post-sneeze-excitement nose. The one time I actually _needed_ a maxi (as in badASS absorbency) pad I couldn't find the fucker.

Played more than one song from The Spoon Concert album while DJing for a bunch of spazzed out lindy hoppers. It's like a sickness. Not the lindy hop - my playing stuff from this album. I just can't help it. I need to get some sort of clue.

Wandered why mormons bother with plural marriage** where the arrangement is one man + many women. While I know that many women is a fully sick option when you're looking at running a conference or a university degree or planning a lindy exchange, I'd have thought the ideal solution is one woman + many men within a marriage. Because I sure as fuck know The Squeeze is run a little ragged riding back and forth between the couch and DVD shop and could do with a sub some time soon.

Thought I might like to re-watch Aliens, mostly for Bill Paxton.***

I like imagining him ranting "Game over, man, game over!" when the Law discovers he's a polygamist.

Wandered why I didn't believe people when they told me Veronica Mars was good. I used to enjoy that bit in Deadwood when Kristen Bell was eaten by Woo's pigs. Now I can't believe I wasn't into this shit.

Wished we had broadcast TV. But only when people are tweeting like motherfuckers about freakin' Masterchef. Whatever _that_ is.

*as in PERIODS.

**this is what happens when you re-watch Big Love.

*** Big Love, again.

"things i have done regularly lately" was posted in the category djing and domesticity and fewd and fillums and gastropod and lindy hop and other dances and television and veronica mars

June 8, 2009


Posted by dogpossum on June 8, 2009 1:07 PM | Comments (0)

An ace film called 'Vespers' where the world ends from plague in Victorian England (via io9):


"fillum" was posted in the category fillums

May 21, 2009

jam session photography

Posted by dogpossum on May 21, 2009 2:41 PM | Comments (0)

Remember I was all interested in magazines and their interest in 'all-star' shows and bands? Well, I've been reading* about Gjon Mili, who directed 'Jammin' the Blues':

(I think this version is edited down... but I'm not sure)

Seen that one? Maybe you haven't seen this one:

Here's the blurb from the youtube site:

Life Magazine photographer Gjon Mili joined with jazz producer and Verve-label owner Norman Granz to produce the short film "Jammin' the Blues" in 1944 with Lester Young, Red Callendar, Harry Edison, "Big" Sid Catlett, Illinois Jacquet, Barney Kessel, Jo Jones and Marie Bryant. The film was nominated for Best Short Subject at the 1945 Academy Awards, but didn't win.

The pair came together again in 1950 to shoot footage of leading jazz artists of the day, but when funding dried up, the film ceased production and sat on shelves for 50 years (except for a few snippets which found their way onto bootlegs).

Blues For Greasy is one of those pieces shot by Gjon Mili and Norman Granz, using musicians from his Jazz at the Philharmonic tour.

Harry 'Sweets' Edison: trumpet
Lester Young: Tenor Sax
Flip Phillips: Tenor Sax
Bill Harris: Trombone
Hank Jones: Piano
Ray Brown: Bass
Buddy Rich: Drums
Ella Fitzgerald: Vocals

Isn't Youtube wonderful?
But then, Google is pretty good too:

Gjon Mili was actually a photographer, who did lots of work with magazines like Life. He also did some work for Esquire, including a 'Jam Session' shoot at his studio. And because the internets is truly freakin' awesome, I had a little look at the Life photos on Google and found this freakin amazing collection of photos.

What's so great about this series? Lots of things. The sheer calibre of stars, all together in one room, playing jazz. Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie, Gene Krupa, Billie Holiday, Eddie Condon... there are just so many amazing musicians in there together. One of the other important things to note about this session is the fact that this is a group of mixed race musicians, playing and photographed together. That was still pretty amazing in 1943.

This is my favourite one:

I like it because it's Billie Holiday singing 'Fine and Mellow' with Cozy Cole on drums. I'm sure someone with a better eye could identify the others. This isn't the famous 1957 television performance I've posted before, though.

I also quite like this one:

It's a group of people from vogue magazine at the same photo shoot.
You know what I'm thinking.

*Knight, Arthur, “Jammin’ the Blues: or the Sight of Jazz, 1944”. Representing Jazz, ed. Krin Gabbard. Duke U Press: Durham and London, 1995. 11-53.

"jam session photography" was posted in the category fillums and lindy hop and other dances and music and research

April 29, 2009

magazines, jazz, masculinity, mess

Posted by dogpossum on April 29, 2009 1:51 PM | Comments (3)

This is another in-progress bit of writing in response to things I've been reading lately. I've found some nicely critical engagments with jazz and jazz study, and am suddenly wishing I was in the US. This isn't the most coherent of posts, partly because I lost part of it with an inadvertent page refresh. Shit.

I've been thinking or wondering about the relationship between Esquire magazine and jazz, partly as a result of my work with the jazz discography (and following Billie Holiday). There were a few concerts in 1944 and 1945 featuring the 'Esquire All Stars' - a group of truly big names: Roy Eldridge, Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, Coleman Hawkins, Art Tatum, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey and others.

There are some albums released from these concerts, including one interesting one called At the Met, the cover of which is particularly provocative when you consider the issues I raise below.

I've just found this in a paper about Miles Davis:

By the 1950s, American had become aware of subtle shifts in social and gender roles. Sociologists and psychiatrists were talking about men trapped in gray flannel suits, the age of conformity, the weakening of the superego, the other-directed person. The concern was that a new postwar economy was creating a society in which people were externally motivated, too well adjusted, too sociable. Scarcely concealed behind the jargon of social science was the fear that it was not women who were changing, but men, who were becoming soft, emotional, and expressive - that is, more like women rather than like the rational and task-oriented patriarchs who had built and protected America. More often than not, such ideas were dressed up as if they were the received wisdom of the ages, but their sources were transparently pop.
Elsewhere, Playboy magazine was wrestling with the same anxieties and assuaging them with a particular kind of male hedonism, promoting the good life for the single man: money, imported cars, circular beds, top-of-the-line stereos, chicks. And like Esquire before it, Playboy championed jazz, as a male music, to be sure, but the music of a certain kind of male, as the couture, decorations, and genderized illustrations of the jazz life in its pages made clear. Then there were the Beats, detested by Playboy, but sharing some of its fantasies by celebrating freedom, male bonding, drugs, art, and the hip lifestyle, one of their inspirations being the nightlife of the black musician (Szwed 183).

This article "The Man" discusses Miles Davis' masculinity, positioning him in the 1950s as both 'a man' and as a jazz musician. There's lots of talk about 'masculinity'. We can also draw some conclusions about white, middle class men and their interest in black masculinity as some sort of 'free', 'sensual' and 'vibrant' ideal. Particularly in reference to the Beats.
It's been interesting reading this article after one about the Newport Jazz Festival, “Hipsters, Bluebloods, Rebels, and Hooligans: the Cultural Politics of the Newport Jazz Festival" by John Gennari. Particularly in reference to this section:

At the Newport Jazz Festival on the fourth of July weekend in 1960, thousands of white youths described by Life magazine as "more interested in cold beer than in hot jazz” spilled from the jazz concerts into Newport’s downtown, attacking policemen, kicking in store windows, and manhandling the town’s residents and visitors. Press reports noted that many of the drunken rioters screamed racial epithets while rampaging through the town. State police used billy clubs and tear gas to stem the riot, then called on the marines for help in restoring order. When the air cleared, over two hundred of the marauders found themselves in local jails, while more than fifty of their victims required medical attention. One witness told the Providence Journal: “I’ve experienced fear twice in my life. Once was in combat during World War II; the other was Saturday night in Newport.” Scheduled to end on Sunday night, the festival was ordered shut down on Sunday afternoon by the Newport city council. The last act was a program of blues narrated by Langston Hughes. Anticipating the city council’s action, Hughes penned a set of lyrics on a Western Union sheet. He handed them to Otis Spann, who sang them slowly as the crowd quietly departed.

Among a rash of press reports on the riot, one commentator blamed the allure of Newport, a “resort area which hold[s] a fascination for the square collegian who wants to ball without running the risk of mom and dad stumbling across his prostrate from on somebody’s lawn.” Mordantly noting the contrast between the Newport gentry “in the front row with their Martini shakers” and the youngsters “squatting in the back, their heads between their knees, upchucking their beer,” journalist Murray Kempton wondered, “Was there anything in America at once so fashionable and so squalid?” To many who had embraced Newport as jazz’s City on a Hill, a sterling model of New England Brahmin philanthropy, more disconcerting than the spectacle of loutish yahoos profaning the festival was the rioter’s identity. These were not switchblade-wielding rebels without a cause, nor pothead beatnicks in overalls. These ‘young hooligan herrenvolk of the Eastern seaboard,” as Village Voice jazz critic Robert Reisner dubbed the rioters, were students from the elite colleges, fraternity brothers on a fast track to the corporate boardroom. “You could tell the students from Harvard and Yale,” wagged one man on the street: “They were throwing only imported beer bottles.” (Gennari 127)

I'd previously thought about the Newport Jazz Festival in reference to the film High Society and the documentary film Jazz on a Summer's Day, both of which suggest class tensions, but in the politest way. Neither references these sorts of middle class men rioting (!). In fact, JOASD is, as Gennari discusses, a more than a little arty, genteel and restrained. Here's a gratuitous clip to illustrate:

For many dancers Newport is significant for the albums recorded there by Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Gannari discusses the racial tensions at work in the Newport Jazz Festival, particularly in its later years and in reference to Louis Armstrong's performance in JOASD which is a little too uncle Tom to be precisely comfortable (and Gannari complicates this with references to Armstrong's own ability to subvert this stereotype). Unlike the idealised descriptions in Beat literature (including some sections in On the Road, which have always bothered me, especially when read in conjunction with Anne Petry's novel The Street), in JOASD black masculinity is carefully contained.

I guess what I'm trying to do here is make some distinctions about representations of race and class in mens' magazines, in music magazines and in films like JOASD. Mens' magazines and Beat writers presented an idealised black masculinity with was free, undomesticated, independent - an artist unbound. Films like JOASD and High Society present black masculinity as safely contained as an item of novelty by the bandstand or (as in JOASD) safely receptive by chairs in the audience. Both of these disconnect them from the broader community of which they were a part... the communities, I should say.
I always think about stories about Nat King Cole in these sorts of discussions. About an anecdote I heard on a TV doco. Cole, financially and artistically successful, bought a large house in a wealthy white suburb. His lawn was set on fire/painted with racial epithets. Though he sought the trappings of middle class security, he was still tagged as 'other'.

Let's talk a bit more about High Society.

This is my favourite part of the film. Armstrong is, effectively, the narrator of HS. It is his voice which anchors the film. I like the way he introduces us to Newport, and his presenting jazz as the most important part of this narrative. I like the casual setting of their playing - playing for fun, for their own enjoyment rather than for an audience. Armstrong's story is for the guys in the band. I kind of like the idea of the band on the road because it echoes the idea of bands and jazz as music in transit. Travel and jazz are also buzzing about in my head at the moment (and I've talked about it before). Their place on a bus is interesting, too, as it clearly marks their class later on, when we see characters like Samantha zipping about in their flash, private cars. Again, buses are a space I think of as 'public', and I'm really interested in the way musicians and dancers make public places 'space' - they occupy it aurally and physically and socially, cutting down invisible lines between individual people with a song or a dance step.

But this contrasts with the following clip (one described in Gennari's article).

This is such a great song. And a fascinating scene. Armstrong and the band are actually introduced to the very white, very upper middle class Newport gentry by Crosby (I can't remember why, exactly). The point is that they're introducing this crowd to jazz. And, we can assume, to black musicians as more than servants. It's pretty radical to have a white singer on stage with a black band, but not that crazy. The band are, of course, matching in their suits. The part I like most is where Crosby's perfectly articulated, wonderfully modulated voice is upstaged by Armstrong's badass trumpet solo. Crosby is perfect; Armstrong is perfectly badass.
This song is popular with dancers, but this version isn't so great for dancing. It's a little too mannered. There's another version where Armstrong sings all the lyrics and the song, generally, has a little more kick. It makes you want to dance. I wish I could find it on the internet, but I can't. Having Armstrong sing as well as play trumpet anchors the song in quite a different way. Armstrong is more comfortable with improvising, and the subtext feels a little saucier. There's a greater element of call and response. And improvisation, of course, is the best way of escaping and adding creatively to a song without it collapsing into random noise.

This clip is significant for its role in introducing the Newport Jazz Festival to a white, straight crowd. And Newport was largely, as one of the promoters George Wein insisted, about popularising jazz. Or about introducing jazz to mainstream America. Debates about the types of jazz on display at Newport, about work practices, pay and the general culture of the festival during a period of Jim Crow legislation make it particularly interesting. Because, remember, the fact that Louis Armstrong and his band are sitting at the back of the bus is very important. Segregation meant that where they traveled and how they traveled and how they played music was managed by law. In this context, what does it mean for Armstrong's solo to bust right out of the carefully mannered, modulated frame set up by Crosby and his 'introductions'?
Of course, in the film HS the white crowd return immediately to 'not-jazz' music and dancing after the performance; this was a moment's entertainment.

I'm not really sure where I'm ultimately going with all this, but there's something niggling me about the connection between men's magazines, masculinity in the postwar (1940s-60s) period, jazz and jazz performances - big jazz concerts in particular.I've also come across an interesting discussion of gender and masculinity in jazz by David Ake in the article "Regendering Jazz: Ornette Coleman and the New York Scene in the Late 1950s". I'm also thinking about jazz clubs in the 40s and 50s, their (predominantly male) membership and their effects on the jazz scene. There's something about big jazz concerts in there too, I think, that I have to follow up. Especially since I noticed just how many live recordings Billie Holiday did in the last decade of her career. The 50s saw her do a whole lot of television shows as well as large concerts, and recordings made from these. I want to follow up these ideas about the 'popularising' of jazz in regards to the status of jazz as 'art' music today. There's a tension between 'classic jazz' as 'art' and later jazz (from bebop to avant garde) in the jazz literature that I want to explore, especially in regards to the Ken Burns' documentary film Jazz. In fact, I always have something to say about that film, especially in regards to its positioning of the jazz musician as isolated 'artist', and jazz history as one of artists prompting cultural change. I am, of course, far more of the opinion that jazz was and is very much a product and process of community and local cultural context.

I know that there's something to be said about individualism and masculinity and the freedom from consequences that comes from the idea that 'jazz' is about isolated artists without community responsibility and ties. How connected was that rioting by young, white middle class college men with a 'freedom from responsibility' associated with the black jazz musician by mens' magazines and writers?

George Lipsitz presents the book Songs of the Unsung as an alternate history of jazz, one firmly embedded in local community, with jazz musicians as necessarily participating in everyday community life, rather than isolated with their 'art' in some rarified space:

Songs of the Unsung presents jazz as the conscious product of collective activity in decidedly local community spaces. The modernist city and the nation pale in significance in Tapscott’s account in comparison to the home, the neighborhood, and the community. Physical spaces far more specific than the ‘city’ shaped his encounter with music, and these spaces had meaning because they were connected to a supportive community network (Lipsitz 17)

I think I like this approach because I want to talk about jazz in the context of contemporary swing dance culture, where dancers read a history of jazz not as a history of art, but as a history of music for dancing. And this history of music for dancing as a collaborative, community history, perhaps too complicated to be told with a simple temporally linear narrative.

I was absolutely delighted to find this section in Lipsitz's book:

Instead of modernist time, this would be a history of dance time, starting with ragtime, not as a showcase for the personal ‘genius’ of Scott Joplin but as a site where African attitudes toward rhythm (and polyrhythm) became prominent in U.S. popular culture. The difference between the rhythmic concepts in ragtime’s right-hand melodies and left-hand bass accompaniment and the genre’s additive rhythms (eight semiquavers divided into 2/3s and 1/2s) evidenced a tasted for multiple patterns at the same time that it opened the door for future rhythmic innovations. Rather than the era that gave to Dixieland and swing, the 1920s and 1930s could be see as a movement from the fox-trot to the jitterbug and the lindy hop. More than a away to distribute music more effectively to a broader audience, the development of electrical recording techniques would be seen as a shift that enabled bass and drums to replace tuba and banjo as the key sources of rhythm. Such a story would feature the tap dancing of John “Bubbles” Sublette, who was dancing “four heavy beats to the bar and no cheating” fourteen years before the Count Basie band came east and popularized swing. This narrative would honor the moment in 1932 when Bennie Moten began to generate a different kind of rhythm and momentum for dancers by replacing the banjo with the guitar and substituting the string bass for the tuba. The transition from swing to bop in this story would not focus on the emergence of the saxophone over the trumpet or the small ensemble over the big band as much as it would highlight how string bass players and frontline instrumentalists began to assume responsibility for keeping time so that drummers could be free to experiment with polyrhythms and provide rhythmic accents for soloists.
The distinctive creators of ‘dance time’ would not be the virtuoso instrumentalists of modernist time but rather virtuoso ‘conversationalists’ like drummer Max Roach and dancers Earl Basie (better known by his stage name, Groundhog) and Baby Laurence. (Lipsitz 22)

I'll see how we go after a bit more reading...

Ake, David. Jazz Cultures. U of California Press: Berkely, 2002.

Gennari, John. “Hipsters, Bluebloods, Rebels, and Hooligans: the Cultural Politics of the Newport Jazz Festival, 1954-1960.” O’Meally, Robert, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin, eds. Uptown Conversation: the New Jazz Studies. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004. 126-149.

Lipsitz, George. "Songs of the Unsung: The Darby Hicks History of Jazz" O’Meally, Robert, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin, eds. Uptown Conversation: the New Jazz Studies. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004. 9-26.

O’Meally, Robert, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin, eds. Uptown Conversation: the New Jazz Studies. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004.

Szwed, John. "The Man" O’Meally, Robert, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin, eds. Uptown Conversation: the New Jazz Studies. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004. 166-186.

Many of these books are produced by members of the Jazz Study Group at Columbia. You can find some of their articles in full-text form online here at It's a fab resource.

"magazines, jazz, masculinity, mess" was posted in the category academia and fillums and lindy hop and other dances and music and research

April 20, 2009

kids' SF films and badass women in jazz

Posted by dogpossum on April 20, 2009 3:58 PM | Comments (2)

1. ' Journey to the Centre of the Earth' with Brendan Fraser is crap. Despite Fraser trying and trying with a truly crap script.
2. 'City of Ember' was awesome. Really good kids' SF. Avoids the more disturbing subtexts of postapocalyptic stories. Mum gave me the book so I'll read it and see how it compares.
3. It's far too long til 'Night at the Smithsonian' comes out. I was really surprised that I liked the first one, but I think it really snagged my museum curiousity.
4. 'Monsters v Aliens' actually isn't too bad. Not only does it pass the Bechdel Test (JTTCOTE and NATM failed), but it also [SPOILER] presents a woman who decides she doesn't want to be a boring trophy wife. She wants to be a MONSTER! The best bit is where she kicks alien arse without superpowers or size. The next best bit is where Dr Cockroach beats an alien using his PHD IN DANCE. I knew there was a good reason for doing a PhD in dance, and preventing alien invasions is obviously it. [/]
5. Two badass female jazz pianists from the Olden Days: Mary Lou Williams and Lovey Austin.
6. Another reason to despise the Ken Burns 'Jazz' doco (or at least the PBS site:

Williams was long regarded as the only significant female musician in jazz, both as an instrumentalist and as a composer, but her achievement is remarkable by any standards.
I'm hoping that's a mistype, as, while Williams rocks the kasbah, she certainly WAS NOT the 'only significant female musician in jazz'. In terms of vocalists alone, Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald were really, majorly important as musicians (as well as other things)... heck, I could go on and on and on. And that's even considering the fact that there weren't anywhere near as many women as men in big name bands.
The text is borrowed from the 'New Grove Dictionary of Jazz', so perhaps they're to blame.

7. Why are all the jazz historians blokes? I want to read New Orleans Style and the Writing of American Jazz History might have some tips. I'm interested in the New Orleans 'revival' - the interest in New Orleans jazz (from the 1920s) in (predominantly white) audiences (c 1940s). While the blurb for that book suggests there were male and female writers, I've yet to come across them. I'd be surprised - absolutely stunned - if the authors' gender break down was 50/50 male/female. This of course makes me think about reading the little jazz publications that were flying about in the 20s, 30s and 40s. I'm also thinking about the white appropriation of black music, here. Or at the least, the effects of mainstream media/white culture's interest in African American music in this period. I'm afraid to start on the Australian stuff.
8. Record fairs are interesting. Mostly blokes. And the blokes into the stuff I'm into (if you can find any of that stuff) are freaky. There aren't as many female as male swing DJs (duh - what's new), and I'm guessing the sisters aren't getting into hardcore vinyl either. But I'd love to be wrong.
9. Let's just revisit ae fully sick female pianist: Mary Lou Williams. She was, fully, awesomely sick. Pianist, arranger, badass.


"kids' SF films and badass women in jazz" was posted in the category djing and fillums and music

February 1, 2009


Posted by dogpossum on February 1, 2009 4:54 PM | Comments (0)

A new Guy Ritchie directed Sherlock Holmes film has me suspecting we'll see more than a little (more) Holmes/Watson slash.
sh.jpg It'll star Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law (Law = Watson, Downey Jnr = Holmes), two blokes who're kind of made for slash. Dunno about Ritchie's involvement, but I quite like watching those two blokes on screen (read more here).

Also, phwoar.

"also..." was posted in the category fillums

January 18, 2009

sometimes it's better never to have seen an iconic film

Posted by dogpossum on January 18, 2009 3:33 PM | Comments (0)

(because it's always better to hear a story retold by your friends)

"sometimes it's better never to have seen an iconic film" was posted in the category fillums

September 14, 2008

why didn't anyone tell me?

Posted by dogpossum on September 14, 2008 12:15 PM

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 in the category fillums and lindy hop and other dances

August 6, 2008

i like it

Posted by dogpossum on August 6, 2008 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

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 in the category fillums

August 3, 2008

jazz on a winter's day

Posted by dogpossum on August 3, 2008 1:45 PM | Comments (0)

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 in the category fillums and lindy hop and other dances and music

March 3, 2008

the fall

Posted by dogpossum on March 3, 2008 2:03 PM | Comments (0)

I'll never get to see this interesting film:

The Fall has lots of interesting costumes, smells more than a little like Baron Munchausen and will never get to a screen near me. :(

"the fall" was posted in the category fillums

February 18, 2008


Posted by dogpossum on February 18, 2008 12:55 PM

I love superhero films. I love sci-fi. I will see anything on these themes, anything at all, so long as it doesn't star Tom Hanks (whom I abhor and avoid at all costs).

So I went to see Jumper the other afternoon on my own (couldn't imagine anyone else who'd go see it with me and understand how I wanted to watch it). I was expecting B, and B I got. But it was fun*. Until just now, when I started thinking about it.

Here's a quick overview of the story (look out for spoilers):
A boy is bullied at school. He has an abusive, alcoholic father.
He learns to 'jump' between physical locations. There's talk of worm holes and so on, but it's mostly a matter of willing yourself to a new location. You must, though, have a picture or visual image of your destination - your jump point (this is interesting because it leads to obsessive, massive collections of photos of exotic places).
He grows up, and has a flash apartment. He jumps all over the world, stealing money from banks.
He's chased by nasty 'paladins', who're some sort of ancient religious order committed to wiping out jumpers.
He revisits his high school sweetheart and shows off. This ends in trouble.
He learns he's not the only 'jumper'.
He joins forces with another jumper (just for a very short time, it's agreed) to kill a particularly nasty paladin, Samuel L. Jackson.
He discovers the mother who abandoned him is a paladin.
She saves him in Rome.
There's a lot of fighting, the girl gets beat up a bit and involved in the violence.
The paladin gets killed (I think - I can't remember).
He (and the girl) visit his mother. We're left with a 'there will be a sequel' scene.

Basically, it was like watching The O.C. with special effects. The characters were physically quite beautiful (in a very conventional, O.C. way). There were petulant teenagers of both genders (I think the protagonist was meant to be in his 20s, but he read teenager to me), there were silly car chases (yay!), there were silly story lines... no, wait. I don't think there was actually a story line.
Overall, it was fun. So long as you didn't notice:

  • The way the protagonist (whose name I just can't remember) treated women: find 'em, fuck 'em, jump out of their town and go surfing/leave them stranded in a foreign country. This wasn't a feminist-friendly film. There were at least two female characters, but they didn't really speak at all, let alone speak to each other
  • Paladins. Why do people call characters 'paladins'? Especially if they're baddies? It doesn't really work, even if it's meant to make you think about knights or swords or whatever.
  • Ethics. Well, you wouldn't have to ignore them, because there didn't seem to be any. It's made quite clear that this a fairly selfish teenager, who could seriously do with a telling off. At one point he's watching telly in his luxury flat and we see a news story about people stuck in flood water. The voice over on the news report is something like 'how could anyone possibly get there to save them?' and the protagonist looks away, bored. Needless to say, though he has the technology, he won't be doing any saving. Or walking to the fridge. Or using doors.
  • The muscles-without-cause. The protagonist is seriously buff. Buff like Clark from Smalls - he's seriously built, and yet his lifestyle doesn't seem to leave room for working out, getting exercise, lifting weights, etc. So the Jumper guy is seriously musclebound, and yet he's so lazy he's suprised when the other Jumper guy (that young kid from Billy Elliot, all growed up) walks around cities instead of jumping from place to place. How, I ask you, could he have developed that body - hell, how could he not be seriously obese with that type of lifestyle? Clark has a slightly different problem - he's simply so strong he'd find it very difficult to get any sort of resistance training happening. So how come he's so buff and built?
  • The costumes. Oh, golly, there was bad teenage fashion in this film. Where was the big name French designer to save the costumes? Even the stupid Matrix managed to put together some decent costumes for the characters.
  • The camera work. Oh man, I freakin' hate this director (Doug Liman), especially the Bourne films. The latest Bourne film was particularly painful - nasty cuts, editing jumping all over the place, horrible hand held camera. In most cases all this busy technical stuff managed to distract from the excitement and tension of the actual events on the screen - we're so busy noticing the editing or camera work, we forget to pay attention to what the protagonist is doing. I dunno, perhaps it 'looks' like first-person real time games or something (hence marking its territory as 'young adolescent males' with this and the persistent misogyny in the narrative), but I just find it annoying. Jumper was at times really difficult to physically watch - the camera would move too quickly for your eyes to focus (including a couple of really, really lame pans across the desert - they were meant to show us how alone and isolated the character/lair was, but moved so quickly we didn't have time to see that there was nothing to see). There were some poorly composed shots - nasty framing that left you thinking 'perhaps this film's artier than I th... no. It's just crappy.'
  • The extras. Looking. At. The. Camera. Yes, wonderfully profesionally work there, Young Woman In Bar 2.
  • The bullshit sound in the bar scene. So the protagonist is in a bar, talking to his high school sweetheart. It's crowded. Said crowd is watching a sports game (dunno what type), so they alternately cheer loudly, hush expectantly and mouth conversations silently in the middle of the shot while the leads talk about... what? I was distracted there. That was some really bad action. So we heard the leads talking quietly, with almost no ambient noise, and then all of a sudden the crowd starts cheering. We see people, right in the middle of shots, talking, but we can't hear them. It's really, really terrible, amateur stuff.

But, on the other hand, we can read this film as a story about an abused child suddenly granted unbelievable superhero powers.

Interestingly, the film is based on a young adult fiction novel by Steven Gould. I haven't read it, but on wikipedia is notes that the protagonist is escaping from an "abusive home". If you keep that in mind, it's not really all that surprising that he ends up obsessed with money and a 'safe' home, hidden away from the rest of the world. It's also not surprising that he's crappy with relationships.
In that light Samuel L. Jackson's obsessed hunting of the jumpers becomes quite distressing. If the protagonist is a damaged boy who's not really living socially, then a vicious, religious fanatic hunting him fanatically because he knows he's innately 'evil' serves as the scary fulfillment of an abused child's sense of self:

Dad hurts me because I'm bad and I deserve it. The paladins are hunting (and hurting) me because I'm evil and I deserve it.

This becomes even more concerning if we keep in mind the fact that we only ever see male jumpers, thus conflating all jumpers with this one protagonist - his experience becomes the experience of all jumpers. This idea is born up by the (unheard) confession by the Griffin (Billy Elliot) jumper that his parents were killed by paladins when he was a child. And the fact that Griffin had a nasty childhood (a point the protagonist responds to with his first moment of 'real' (?) emotion. So either all jumpers are echoes of this one protagonist, or all jumpers are abused boys who've managed to 'escape'. Either way, it's unhappy stuff.

We also see the protagonist's mother (who abandoned he and his father years ago) turn up on the paladin's team, later explaining that it was actually the son's fault that she left in the first place (and her leaving is presented as the reason for the father's alcoholism and violence)... Well, it's not a happy story.

Again, if we read this as a story of a lonely, abused child, it's not surprising that the boy's chained bedroom door (chained on the inside to protect himself) is replaced by an apartment which apparently has no working doors, and includes a 'panic room' (with no doors at all) filled with money and gear. Hoarding food is a marker of a pretty unhappy, frightened child, and hoarding currency/jewels/gear in obsessive tidiness becomes the marker of a damaged young adult who never feels safe.

So, there are lots of things to ignore in this film, and lots of things which are really quite sad on second glance. But if you just think 'woo-hoo! Special effects!' it's all cool. Particularly if you like the O.C. (which is also a story about an unhappy boy-man whisked off to sudden and startling wealth, if I remember properly).

*I've blogged the preview here.

"jumper" was posted in the category fillums

February 3, 2008


Posted by dogpossum on February 3, 2008 11:32 PM

That horrible program is over and we've just watched our way through the lovely Billy Elliot (not Billy Holliday) and are now beginning with the divine Staying Alive. Directed by Sylvester Stallone, no less. And starring John Travolta. "Do you dance?"


"phew" was posted in the category fillums and lindy hop and other dances and television

January 27, 2008

go media convergence, go

Posted by dogpossum on January 27, 2008 10:38 AM

I'm not sure if anyone's seen this, but it's an amazing idea.
Basically, the Met transmits their operas live to cinemas in Australia (and elsewhere, I guess). So you're sitting in a cinema watching a high definition, live performance of some pretty high grade high art opera on a cinema screen. They don't go everywhere, but they do go to some regional centres.
Am I the only one who thinks that's a pretty interesting and quite amazing concept? I don't much care for opera, but I'm fascinated by the technology and marketing and cross-media/media convergence action here. Just imagine how popular these would be if it was something with mass, popular appeal.... or would it be popular?

Anyone been?

"go media convergence, go" was posted in the category fillums

January 15, 2008


Posted by dogpossum on January 15, 2008 1:23 PM

"cool" was posted in the category fillums

January 14, 2008

feeling a little traumatised

Posted by dogpossum on January 14, 2008 4:55 PM

by difficult French films?

There is only one solution:

Also having difficulty imagining the dissertation as a book, so rereading markers' comments, just to remind me that I don't completely suck. Academia = way great fun.

...and I'm finding editing the Transformers pages on wikipedia very satisfying. I know nothing about the Transformers universe, I can't figure out what the articles are actually about because they're so badly written, but I am feeling immense satisfaction in rewriting them. Soon, though, I will know everything about the Transformers. Just ask me.

"feeling a little traumatised" was posted in the category academia and fillums

January 12, 2008

exciting exciting!

Posted by dogpossum on January 12, 2008 5:13 PM | Comments (0)

"exciting exciting!" was posted in the category fillums

intertube moofies

Posted by dogpossum on January 12, 2008 4:35 PM | Comments (5)

Because we are queen of media, and because our local video shop sucks arse, I am considering an online DVD ordering arrangement. It's terribly old school - DVDs coming in the mail. Just like ordering seeds from a catalogue (my favourite thing ever), and I guess as soon as the internet becomes a superhighway rather than a single lane (covered) central Queensland highway it'll be superseded by downloads. But for now, it's about the most exciting thing I can imagine.
So does anyone use any of these things? We've looked atquicklix and bigpond, but quickflix is winning at the moment. Once you get to the $36 per month plan, you get unlimited DVDs per month, 3, 4 or 5 at a time. It's a bit cheaper on Bigpond (especially as we have a Telstra phone account for our internet), but Bigpond don't do the unlimited DVDs and they have some slightly dodgy small print. Both offer free trials.

I'm not sure which account we should get. I'm a massive DVD renter, so I think there's definitely the potential for unlimited DVDs. When we had a halfway decent DVD shop, I'd get DVDs out every other day - 2 and 3 at a time. So we're looking at a family who'd hire about 10 DVDs a week, possibly 5, and that's about 20 a month. That's $46 on Bigpond or $36 on quickflix. The issue would be how many you can have at a time - only 3? Would 4 be better? It'd depend on your turn around time and how good you were at putting them in the mail. We're weak on returning DVDs round here.

And you have to keep 20 DVDs in your list to be hired on quickflix. There are no overdue fees, but you are paying for the service, monthly, so you're losing money if you don't return DVDs.

... I guess we'd take advantage of the films (especially the older, harder to get arty ones and others that I think of as 'weeklies' - musicals, classics, foreign, etc), and would really benefit from the telly. It's easier to get through multiple discs of a telly show than multiple movies, because you watch them in 30 minute, 45 minute and 1 hour blocks, rather than committing to one and a half hours at a time. That's good for me because I like to watch an episode of something over lunch, to take a break from work.

So, does anyone use any of these services? Which? What's good about them?

"intertube moofies" was posted in the category fillums and television

January 10, 2008

let's say no to perforations

Posted by dogpossum on January 10, 2008 11:25 AM

Three interstate trips in one month. No more, thanks. Conference, christmas and a funeral. Brisvegas was interesting and I quite liked seeing it - it's changed, I've changed, so it's kind of nice that we could get together again after seven years and find that we had lots to talk about and quite liked each other.
Acclimating to mega-humidity? Tick.
Family visited, without incident? Tick.
Old mates visited. Tick.*

It is hot today, and I have cleverly booked in an appointment with the doctor for another ear inspection. It's becoming an annual thing. Well, something I do a few times a year, actually. I have had enough of not being able to hear properly - it makes me irrationally furious, inciting Shouting, Stamping and Offensive Language. So I will have them irrigated today at 3. When the ambient temperature is about 40 degrees C. I'm hoping it will soften the wax and aid its removal.

I have plans for films to see, and I have started thinking about redoing the thesis. I have decided that it will now be known as The Book rather than The Thesis. I will start thinking about fonts immediately, as that is obviously the most important part of the process. Pav articulates my current feelings about the project quite nicely. As an ob-con type person, proof reading and editing is really the best place to site my natural abilities and interests. Serious Tidying will commence in a few hours, once this post is written, a cup of tea made, and a little clothes mending completed.

What fillums have I seen lately? Well, one of the most pleasing was Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers. I hated this when it came out, but now, after a few years of Howard government, it makes a lot more sense. It's also part of a recent spate of early 90s sci-fi fillum delightfulness, after we watched Total Recall the other night. In discussion with a fellow nerd yesterday afternoon, I realised that they're both actually Verhoeven fillums, and that's probably why they're both so wonderfully specrappular. Having read this type of SF as a Young Person, first discovering the Adult part of the family bookshelves (at about the age of 11, when carefully scanning the Adult stuff for the least hint of sauciness), these two fillums really capture the mood of terrible authors like Peirs Anthony. It's lovely, teenage stuff, and absolutely low-brain. So that's a tick tick and a V.G. from us.

Last night on SBS I also stumbled over In the Mood for Love, a Kar Wai Wong film that I absolutely love. I keep hoping their relationship will end well, but it never does, no matter how many times I watch the film. I love the obvious stuff - the colours, the framing of shots, the slo-mo, the soundtrack, the almost-love-affair ness of it.
Let's have a look at a couple of PR shots:
And just in case that's not enough, here's the trailer:

I think I might have a Thing for Tony Leung. My Thing for Maggie Cheung continues.
This new Thing is only fuelled by the immanent arrival of Ang Lee's latest film, Lust, Caution, which I've heard has heaps of hot sex, which I know will be an absolute visual feast, and which I'm terribly excited about. I'm thinking about special preview sessions on Friday day. It also stars Leung, which is very nice, and Joan Chen, who I also love (you might remember me crapping on about this stuff a little while ago in this post). I have rewatched Lee's Sense and Sensibility in preparation. Because no one does suppressed lust and caution like Austen.

The nicest part about catching this film last night was discovering it's part of an SBS series screenings of films by the cinematographer Christopher Doyle. The worst part was realising I'd missed Hero. Dumplings is on Wednesday 23rd January. I'm not sure if the others have already been on or not, but the SBS search function on their site sucks a bit, and I can't be bothered figuring it out. Guess I'll have to go to the video shop. Oh wait, our video shop SUCKS, so that won't work. Guess I'll be the last kid on the block to get into it, and use Netflix/Quickflicks.

Additionally, I also missed the first episode of Skins, a new series by the doods who made Shameless. And that's a big poo.

Well, think of me as I make it by PT (it's probably too hot to ride) to the doctor this afternoon, and pray for my ear drum. Let's say no to perforations.

*twice in a year! Dang, we'll have nothing left to talk about next time!

"let's say no to perforations" was posted in the category academia and brisbane and fillums and television

December 12, 2007

nostalgia = go

Posted by dogpossum on December 12, 2007 12:57 PM

Is it just me who's really excited about this film coming out?

I really enjoyed the first one - I thought it looked lovely and lush, it was heaps of fun, and it actually seemed to make the gender stuff work ok. Perhaps I was blinded by nostalgia, but I thought it was neat. Probably because I thought the Lord of the Rings films were freakin', shitfully dull, and the Narnia stories are heaps more fun. And with way less violence.

Which I think is appropriate for kids - I'm not one of these people who thinks kids should be reading and watching stories about the Holocaust, child abuse, dystopian post-apocalyptic societies where kids are left alone to battle nasty monsters, animal abuse, etc etc etc. The Narnia stories aren't all sugar and sunlight, but I don't approve of too much horribleness for kids.
And I'm a kid, and I don't like that stuff. I like fantasy and flowers and kissing. Though I bet there won't be much of that in the new Narnia film.

I'm also looking forward to The Golden Compass.

"nostalgia = go" was posted in the category fillums

October 23, 2007

where no man has gone before

Posted by dogpossum on October 23, 2007 6:46 PM

The Squeeze has decided that everyone who likes Jane Austen is an Austenaut. I have been rewatching that latest version of Pride and Prejudice with whatsit Knightly, and I love it. I love it. I love it.

"where no man has gone before" was posted in the category fillums

September 20, 2007

dvd crazy

Posted by dogpossum on September 20, 2007 4:57 PM

I really like borrowing DVDs from the video shop, but lately our video shop has gone to shit. There are very few DVDs for hire, but zillions for sale. It's the same story with a few other video shops in Brunswick. It doesn't make me happy - I'd much rather pop in to rent something, pay $6 (or $3 or whatever) and bring them back for other people. I don't need to own the things.
But I guess I'm in the minority in Brunswick.

But since I started teaching media so full-on-ly, using so much AV stuff, I've gotten interested in film again. I've been picking up cheap DVDs when I see them. I never pay more than $10 for a single DVD, so it's a bit like renting them. And I have a list of priorities - not just any old shit. Unless it's 80s shit. I'm on an 80s film binge. I think it's because I'm working with teenagers who don't know who Molly Ringwald is. And I just can't believe them.
I also like anything SF. Anything. And I like lady films - chick flicks. Because chick flicks are dialogue heavy, so you can listen to them while you crochet (pink and green afghans are go at our house, though they're all beige to The Squeeze). I also like the cheeriness of chick flicks. I know I should be suspicious of their gender politics, but I like the character-centredness, the predictably reassuring plots. And how could I take this heternormativity seriously? It's so insistent it's difficult to really accept. So it's kind of like playing dress ups - putting on Barbie clothes for a hour or so.
I have also been hunting down all the films by the following directors:

  • Woody Allen
  • Jim Jarmusch
  • Robert Altman
  • Coen Brothers
  • Ang Lee

Going through the DVDs we do own, I rediscovered this one the other day:

Saving Face*, directed by Alice Wu. It's a really lovely story about a young Chinese American dyke living in New York who falls in love with a lovely Chinese American ballet dancer. Her mum (Joan Chen!!!) gets pregnant and must come to live with her. The 'saving face' bit is about maintaining family honour.
I adore it.
It reminds me of Ang Lee's Wedding Banquet.

I'm also very fond of films like The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love. Lady films with lots of dialogue, happy endings and kissing. I like the kissing bits.

I'm also watching the TV version of Tales of the City. I'd loved it when it was on telly, and I remember reading all the books/stories. It's not quite as good as I remember, but I do like it. More kissing. Lots of boobs. Great 70s frock action. Tight pants. Big hair. Ace.

I found a whole bunch of DVDs in the second hand shop in Moonee Ponds for sale. I suspect some of them were films that someone forgot to return. Or just outmoded stock. It's making me happy. $6 is what I'd pay for a new release, and when that gets you your very own copy of Gosfod Park, the world is a very lovely place.

I haven't seen a film at the cinema in ages and ages. But that's because I haven't had time. But these DVDs are getting me through. Could be a bit ob-con (a bit like this rash of blogging), and I am doing a lot of crocheting. Also managed to squeeze in time to make a nice very dark grey zip-up hoody with black and white striped hood-lining and pocket and red bias trip around the hood and zip. It's loose, very soft and very nice and warm. Made in that tracksuit fleece - looks like cotton knit on the outside, all fuzzy inside. Cheap fabric, only $4 a metre (150 wide) but all cotton and very, very pleasing.

I have been wearing it with long black shorts and my uncool converse sandshoes. No, not gym boots, but uncool cheapies. Black 'velveteen'. The students are unimpressed. I am inordinately proud of them - I remember my first red and blue pair back in the early 90s when they were cool. I like the wide round toe. I even like the black velveteen. I am also wearing my one pair of ill-fitting home made jeans to bits. And threadless Tshirts. Unfortunately all this academia has led to very little dancing, so I'm getting really really fat. Luckily it doesn't matter how big my arse is, because my brain is really big. But it does mean that I have a limited wardrobe atm, and no time to make more clothes. A conundrum. Guess all the sitting about on that wide, comfortable load watching DVDs doesn't help.

*guess this made me think of it.

"dvd crazy" was posted in the category fillums

March 29, 2007

TELL ME i'm not the only one

Posted by dogpossum on March 29, 2007 1:23 PM

You know that Scorcese film the Departed? When I went to see it at the cinema it struck me as so ridiculous I laughed out loud during the really serious parts. I mean, really - am I the only who thought that film was completely shithouse? I mean jesus, the RAT running along the (window sill? I forget) at the end - surely I wasn't the only one who laughed out loud?

Any film with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson is heading for crapsville. I like Mark Whalberg, but Matt Damon?!

TELL ME I'm not the only one who thought that film was utter crap?!

"TELL ME i'm not the only one" was posted in the category fillums

February 21, 2007

she who dies with the most fabric wins

Posted by dogpossum on February 21, 2007 3:12 PM

Bravery report
Ok, so I survived the dentist yesterday. The appointment took about 10 minutes, was absolutely painless and very effective. The dentist was all "Why didn't you come in? There was no reason to suffer that pain for so long for such a little thing?" and I was all "I was scared," and then he was "but I'm not scary, am I? You can talk to me" and then I went "it wasn't rational. If it was rational I would have come in."
But it didn't hurt, he didn't charge me and it doesn't hurt any more. It was just a bit of sticky-out filling that was bumping out into my bite and needed filing down so it didn't echo impact up into my jaw. So now it's all nice and I am much braver about the dentist. He had to remind me: "But that last time was a root canal. That's the most painful thing you can have done. Nothing else will hurt like that." I can't help these things.
I was pretty brave all up. I only teared up a bit when I told him I was scared. I don't know what my problem is - I can get up in front of a few hundred people and do a bit of strutting and telling of shit. I can get up in front of zillions of people and dance like a fool (with authentic chicken steps and all*), do the worm and so on. I can deal with aggressive bullying blokes. I can teach groups of surly teenagers about the internet. I can run massive week-long dance events. I can play music to ensure a room full of picky dancers have a good time. But I can't handle a bit of pain.
Sigh. Something to work on, I guess.

So I go back in a year for a regular check up. I'm sure I'll be back to my pre-surprise-root-canal bravery by then.

Yoga update
On other fronts, I went to yoga again today. That's two weeks since last time. I suck, because I love yoga, it makes me feel so good (though it's hurting at the moment), it helps me avoid injuries and muscle strain in dance and it's fun and social with lots of nice nannas. But I went, and that's what counts.
Then I went to Sugardough and had a nice salad roll and a cup of tea followed by a nice brownie. Then I bought an olive bread thing (like a skinny french loaf, but not as skinny as those Italian bread stick things - help me out here, Galaxy, will you?) which I love eating toasted with fetta cheese on top.

Sewing news
Then I went to the-fabric-store-whose-name-we-cannot-speak and bought too much fabric. I will blog images if I can ever get them off The Squeeze's camera (I have a backlog on there). I bought:

  • some black stuff to make a dress for The Squeeze's sister's wedding (two weeks away or something). It will have straps, a high waist (sort of empire-lined, but A-line skirt), a bodice that's in three bits (I've forgotten the proper name, but it gives a more fitted look) and I'm going to make some little flower petals or some sort of shaped pieces to sew onto the front to add detail. I have a nice purple version I should also blog - I'm too fat for it these days, but it's still one of my favourites. The shaped bits will be like petals (two pieces sewn together to give a bit of a 3D look) and are a black-on-purple paisley-esque print. Very tasteful.
  • some cream background craft fabric with nice green crocodiles printed. This will be a bodice for a dress with a high waist (again - it makes my body look longer), with the sirt made out of an interesting greeny patterned craft fabric. All crocodiles would have been fun, but perhaps a bit too unflattering. I like interesting prints, so I wouldn't have minded the crocodiles all over. Just not the cream background. It will have the green as bias binding around the top of the bodice, and maybe the straps will be the green as well. I'm thinking a crocodile pocket as well. But I haven't decided on the pattern yet. If I love this dress, it may be the wedding outfit. But it's my first green dress ever and I usually don't like any colour that's not black, purple, pink, red, maroon or some other warm colour. I look shit in blues and greens and whites and yellows and oranges (because I am 'olive' coloured. Which means I look yellow when I don't have a tan, which means I look a little jaundiced. I also have dark eyes and eyebrows)
  • two big pieces of white voile with black prints. One is a nice rose sort of pattern (like a line drawing - I know it has a real name but I've forgotten it). The other has a stronger black print and is William Morris-ish. I doubt I'll ever make anything from them but I like looking them. And as we all know, she who dies with the most fabric wins.

Quilting news
Come on, summer, get over yourself. I have a new project to finish and it sucks to have to put the fan on so I can bear to work on it.
Remind me to post some pics of my latest (divine) job, will you? I am all about quilting using found or remnant fabrics, so most of my quilts are quite small, but also quite beautiful**. It's nice to see vintage fabrics from which I made favourite dresses (which died ages ago) all matched up in one quilt.

Cinema review
Yesterday I saw Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man and really enjoyed it. I'm a big fan of Cohen's music and I really liked all the music in the film. It's a doco, but a pretty arty farty one (not much useful knowledge in there), and it's mostly footage of other people at a concert singing Cohen's songs. Rufus Wainwright does a freaking amazing version of Everybody Knows which blew my brain and made the whole film worth the entry cost.
It does, however have fucking Bono and The Edge talking about Cohen and performing with him. I wanted to scream profanities at them. I fucking hate U2. I fucking hate Bono. He sucks arse. And can't sing half as well as he thinks he can. And the Edge? Shit, I could play guitar better than him. It was so pathetic to see them playing with Cohen after people like the Wainwrights, the Handsome Family, Nick Cave and Jarvis Cocker doing these wonderful, interesting versions of Cohen's music. And Bono is suck a wanker. I mean, Hallelujah is a wonderful song, but so freaking obvious.
But aside from thaose nasty little Irish moments, the film was neat. Go if you love Cohen, but don't go if you don't like him. It'd suck if you didn't like him.

*the peck is a very Frankie Manning move. These days I am saying "what would Frankie do?" whenever I want to spice up a basic step. So I imagine I have a giant, 90-year-old-man arse, an interest in boobs and a really low centre of gravity. It really helps me get down off my toes and work it. Just like a dirty old man.

** not in a 'man, you're so talented! what a fabulous bit of patchwork/quilting!' way, but in a 'aren't they nice fabrics?' way.

"she who dies with the most fabric wins" was posted in the category domesticity and fillums and old sew and sew

January 17, 2007

quick film recommendation

Posted by dogpossum on January 17, 2007 10:10 AM


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

Will write more when I have more time.

"quick film recommendation" was posted in the category fillums

December 21, 2006

tokyo drift

Posted by dogpossum on December 21, 2006 11:13 PM

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

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

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

I think I want to see what tokyo drift" was posted in the category fillums and tasmania

November 14, 2006

aeon flux

Posted by dogpossum on November 14, 2006 10:12 PM

I was a fan of the original television series.
The strange, angular characters and odd storylines really appealed. Not to mention the female protagonist. I liked the way she was 'sexualised' but not in a conventionally sugary way.

But I also liked the film version.

Watching the extras on the DVD now, there are some interesting things working in terms of body shapes and aesthetics of movement. It's a very white, European aesthetic at work - lots of pointed toes and extended legs and arms.

But you can't help but think about issues of gender and body and sexuality when you're watching an 'action' film, whether we're talking about female or male actors and characters. I was recently seriously annoyed by a comment from a peer about these sorts of female characters - that they were, simply, sexualised eye candy for computer game playing adolescent boys. Because for me, these type of female characters (from Lara Croft to all the Milla Jovovich characters) are exciting and interesting and far more than just eye candy.
I think that my main criticism of that comment is that it suggests that male action characters are somehow not sexualised (because, obviously, the female body is always the object of desire, the male is always the subject). And that a woman being physically active or violent or acrobat is somehow inherently sexual or sensual because she is a woman. And that this somehow mediates the affect of her violence.


Sure, there are some fairly heavily sexualised images in the representation of female action figures.

But then, there are a range of ways of sexualising women and associating them with sexualised symbols.

Whether they're 'feminine'


or 'masculine'

or really 'masculine'.

But I do think, despite these things, that when the protagonist is a woman, and when she is a powerful character, the phrase 'sexualised violence' is too simple. Surely, Charlize is one seriously sexualised body flipping and fighting her way through that film. But the fact that she is a character I feel comfortable imagining myself to be (in a classicly psychoanalitic moment) suggests that there must be some sort of feminist pleasure to be found in these sorts of characters. And that there must be more to them than simply a little hawt body action for teenage boys to scope.
As even my undergrads have well and truly gathered, audiences are active. We make active use of the images on the screen. And so I can make Aeon the type of female character who doesn't make me uncomfortable.

Aeon herself is an interesting characer, as a result of her original placement as an animated character in an MTV text who died quite regularly.

If you've ever seen the original animation, you'd know that Aeon (and her co-characters) aren't entirely comfortable.

They don't fit nicely into archetypal 'objects' and 'subjects'. The program was difficult to watch. The characters were difficult to live with.

I know that there are problems with the film. I know that it didn't bring with it all the subversive and interesting aspects of the animation. But I think that for someone like me, who has seen the animation, the film cannot help but echo the animation - the two are inextricably linked. Intertextual. Cross-polination (to use an image from Aeon Flux the film).

Charlize herself carries interesting echoes of sexuality and the body and speculative fiction.

And Aeon Flux is far less disturbing than silly films like Ultraviolet, though no where near as interesting as Razor Blade Smile.

"aeon flux" was posted in the category fillums

October 22, 2006

animal encounters

Posted by dogpossum on October 22, 2006 7:31 PM

Last night riding home from die Spiegeltent (where I am currently doing a few DJing gigs - Nov 4th and 18th and Dec 2nd if you want to catch up - it's a glorious venue, there's a cheesy dance class (which every one loves - especially the kids) and there are cheesy performances (which you can't help but enjoy) and cheesy jokes (and I don't care if it's only me who adores them) and some fricking AWESOME DJed music - all for $10. Though it's $10 for a beer(!!!!) )

... yeah, so on the ride home, we saw ten cats. I kid you not - ten cats. I usually see three (often the same ones, though not always), but last night we saw four ordinary cats and then six feral cats down near the railway line. I don't know who thinks feeding feral cats is a good idea: if you do, you're ON CRACK. The Squeeze got off his bike and tried to chase one to give it a squeeze. He stopped when I warned him that he'd have to sleep in the shed if he caught one.

I don't much care for cats. I certainly don't like to see them out on the street, looking for things to kill.

We have also seen a lovely small corgi tied up outside our local shops a couple of times lately. Last time it was outside the Safeway, yesterday it was outside Nino and Joes. I think I'm in love. I suggested The Squeeze squash it into his backpack and then make a quick getaway, but the owner overheard and didn't look too impressed.
That is one fine corgi - it is gentle and sweet and has lovely fur and huge ears. Unfortunately, generations of inbreeding have left it with stunted feet.

Tomorrow is dentist appointment #3. The second one wasn't so bad (just two small fillings), but tomorrow is the follow up on the surprise root canal. I am a bit scared, as it seems that side of my jaw is more sensitive than the other. I have promised myself another trip to the cinema (we went to see Children of God tonight at the Nova) and I think I'll let myself see anything I want, even if it's Little Miss Sunshine which The Squeeze wants to see as well. Either that or that dullish biodoco* about that architect bloke. I like films about buildings. Really, I'd prefer a chick flick, but they're all out of them at the cinema. And I doubt they'd have it at the Kino, which is across the road from the dentist. Nor the Nova, which is my second choice.
So I guess I'll just have to settle for some insane spontaneous CD purchasing instead.

*Sounds like something I'd buy at Nino and Joe's, huh? Nope. But I did buy a lovely rolled turky roast this weekend. I love turkey, and this was some great action. Stuffed with something sweet with nuts (shh, don't tell The Squeeze - he hates nuts but didn't realise). Took two bloody hours to cook, but man, was that some tasty giant fowl.

Note to self: turkeys aren't big on the swimming.

"animal encounters" was posted in the category bikes and brunswick and djing and fillums

October 16, 2006

round up

Posted by dogpossum on October 16, 2006 9:35 AM

I have about 45 minutes before I have to leave for apppointment #2 with the dentist, and I'm surprisingly unscared. I slept like a baby, weighted down by a million blankets because we've gone from 30-odd degrees during the day to having to wear fleecy pajamas at night in the space of 24 hours. Ah, Melbourne. But if I continue to write about it, I'm sure I'll start getting scared.

I spent a very productive weekend, after a week of incredibly poor teaching on my part. Having the surprise root canal on Monday made for interesting lecturing on Tuesday, what with my numb lips and tongue and post traumatic stress syndrome. Tutoring Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was equally ordinary, though Wednesday was spectacularly bad. Thursday was ok, and by Friday I was back to being tired and an ordinary teacher. A run in with a particularly difficult student did not help (thank you for those public, in-class accusations of incompetency. And enjoy your future marks*).

This week, though, I did ride into the university, using a combination of bike (15minutes on a terrifying road to Northcote station), train (10 minutes in blessed airconditioning), 20minutes riding the terrifying streets of Reservoir (say 'res-ev-or' not 'res-ev-oir') and then a delicious 5 minutes swoop downhill through the uni. I tried riding back that way, but was frightened by the traffic (dang, those suburban types are completely un-bike-aware. And terrifying).
I also tried riding through the university to the next train line over, to Macleod station, which was a very lovely ride. Except for the bit where I got lost about 5 times and had to ask for directions at least 3 times. But even that wasn't so bad - it was a lovely day, I love my bike, and I was having a lovely time in our quite lovely campus (which is very bushy and has lots of wild life, including some bulllying magpies). But I got to zoom down a very very steep hill, through very lovely tree-ey suburban streets (they have GIANT eucalypts out there). And then I caught the train in to the city. It was zone 2, but I dealt with that.
So, riding to work: great fun. But good for sweat-making, which isn't so cool when you forget to bring a change of clothes and have to squash into an overcrowded tutorial room with a bunch of fairly prissy teenagers (unlike dancers, who really don't mind about sweat at all).
It's also a nice option because I've discovered that catching the Macleod line train to Westgarth rocks, because the Westgarth cinema (here is a link to the site, but because it uses frames you'll have to click away til you find the Westgarth, but you can read about it on wikipedia as well) has reopened. Admittedly, now owned by a megacinema group (oh, how I miss the insane amount of independent cinemas in Brisvegas), but still quite stunningly beautiful inside and out. So I will be dropping in there to see fillums quite regularly I think (especially as it's about a 15/20 minute bike ride from our house (about the same on the bus), where you ride along the Merri Creek bike path, which winds along the Merri Creek**. Could there be a more perfect way to spend an afternoon?

On a like note, we saw A Prairie Home Companion last week at the Kino, and we LOVED IT. It's just like the Muppets, but with bluegrass/country music. Same sight gags, though.

MLX6 planning continues, and I finally had a chance to get all caught up and up to date with my responsibilities this weekend (I do long for a whole 2 days in a row where I can just sit about and do nothing, or do things like ride to the Westgarth for a fillum). It is looking scarily huge, with a crazy amount of internationals and interstaters booked in. I hope our venues are big enough.
Brian has continued with another podcast (Fat Lotta Radio, fyi), to which you can subscribe by popping this url: into your itunes or podcast reader. This is the sort of thing that makes MLX so much fun.

...ok, I have to ping ding, chicken wings - got some stuff to do. Think of me at about 11am, will you?

*That was a joke. I have of course handed over this student's marking to course coordinator.
**Which locals think is great, but if you are from one of those lovely cities with lots of stunning parks and greenery (eg the Brisvegas river-side rides), this will look kind of lame. But you know, when you live in concrete-land, you don't sniff at a bit of green.

"round up" was posted in the category bikes and fillums and melbourne and teaching

July 4, 2006

Cars and Over The Hedge

Posted by dogpossum on July 4, 2006 1:59 PM

I've recently seen Over the Hedge and Cars (did I mention my nieces are 11 and 7?). So I have things to report. But not right now. I'm a bit tired.

But you might want to go have a look here to read the Over the Hedge comic (from which the film was developed).

Super Size Me convinced me never to eat McDeath or other scary junk food ever again. OTH did a similar job. While it was a refreshingly child-centred film, the Message was decidedly anti-junk food and anti-television/sloth... not to mention anti-suburban development. It's not a pixar-type multimodal/polyvocal text. OTH is a children's film. But it was ideologically heavy in a very hippy-friendly way (well, perhaps without the 'violence').

Cars, on the other hand, was uncomfortable viewing for me. Very 'go-cars!', 'drive one - now!', 'use fossil fuels - today!'. It didn't sit well with me, and is my least favourite pixar effort to date. It looked great (but they all do, right?), but I just had this odd discomfort with the whole car/petrol/nostalgia thing. I'm not sure I want to revisit the 50s, where people drove just for the pleasure of driving (rather than getting places). Though I do dig neon.
It might have been my cold talking, but I also found it really really loud.

"Cars and Over The Hedge" was posted in the category digging and fillums

January 17, 2006

raging ham

Posted by dogpossum on January 17, 2006 9:36 PM

This week has seen The Squeeze fiddling with a very old Mac - a blue and white G3 - for Crinks. It's frankenbox now as we've desperately scrounged memory to make it fast enough to run imovie. Thing is, it's a piece of shit that's not worth the plastic it's made of, so it's been kind of a struggle. But you know Macsluts - they can't let go of Mac crap. Gotta hoard it. In evidence: one of the little rubbery stops/feet on my ibook has fallen out. I hadn't noticed, but it's worrying The Squeeze.
At any rate, Crinks was overjoyed with her new digital freedom and asked what The Squeeze would like in repayment.
As I explained to her:
[with husking voice]: "One day I'm gonna come to you with a difficult proposition. And you will remember this."

Don Hamleoni can afford to be generous with the skills of others.

Tonight we went to see The Family Stone which I really enjoyed, mostly for the elder Wilson brother (I would marry those Wilson boys), but also because it provided me with some chick-slapstick. There's nothing I like more than women falling down. Followed perhaps by serious pathos. I laughed a lot at Claire Danes falling down some bus steps. More than anyone else in the crowded cinema. The Squeeze takes inordinate delight in my laughing inappropriately in the cinema - it's the naughty side of him. I blame my mother for my strange sense of humour. I can't help it. Puns, black humour, slapstick. It's the simple stuff I like.

I have continued our cinematic journey through Important Films We Haven't Seen, this week themeing them 'men movies', in honour of the Squeeze, who's been a bit poorly. The other week it was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which was great, and I caught part of Easy Rider on telly the other night, which I have fond memories of ("Have you got helmet?" "Yeah, i got a helmet").
I think we should get China Town out next, and then Mean Streets and The Outsiders because I want to get to Rumble Fish which I adored as a teenager.
This week there was Hunt for Red October (nothing makes a sicky bub feel better than a submarine movie - he regularly rewatches Das Boat in the middle of the night to comfort him when he can't sleep), followed by Godfather III, which did not please us as much as I or II, both of which we loved (though I wins by a nose).

Last night we watched Raging Bull. It took hours and hours, and we were a bit bored by the end. Sure, it's great and all, but still...

In other news, I have of late been susceptible to bouts of furious rage, usually in response to meaningless acts or events. Asking me to find out which film I'd like to see was enough to cause a mighty shouting and raging last night. The day before it was the garage clothes line's being canibalised for a party (in November). Yesterday it was not having the door answered when I demanded it.
The poor Squeeze is, for the most party, the hapless victim of this senseless fury. He is a walking definition of the word stoicism. If it weren't for the 'shut up!' voice and the dance of derision, he'd no doubt have murdered me by now.
I blame it all on thesis-completion anxiety and an overwhelming paranoia about my extension application.
Though it may also perhaps have something to do with all these gangstah films we've been watching...

"raging ham" was posted in the category fillums

October 21, 2005

kind of snowy and cold and, well... no, I have no point.

Posted by dogpossum on October 21, 2005 12:57 PM

I've been thinking about Russia a bit lately. The other day I saw a documentary about living in Moscow on SBS. Basically, the story was about 'business stealing' in Moscow. It seems that if you have a bunch of private security doods (ie private police force), you forge some proof of ownership documents (including those documenting the sale of a business), have a contact or two in the government, you can simply walk into a business with your private police force and take over. Then it belongs to you. If you sell it on, the person who buys it legally owns it, because they bought it in good faith. There are next to no legal options for the person whose business you've stolen. And if you want some land somebody's house is on, you simply burn down the house. Because, under Russian law, if your house burns down, you no longer own the land.

There are some corruption issues in Russia atm.

Then we saw that Night Watch film. And I thought about the people in that documentary when I saw that film. I bet the ordinary Moscow citizens wish there was a watch for Russian businessmen and politicians.

And then I was thinking about the Russian lindy hoppers. Each year at Herrang there are a bunch of Russian lindy hoppers. They're subsidised by the Herrang organisers because the Russians are so economically rooted. As a consequence, there are some seriously kick arse Russian lindy hoppers. I wonder about this... should Australian visitors to Herrang be sponsored as well, because they don't have the money to travel to Herrang? I know that the Swingapore people offer scholarships to promising dancers each year - they have all their dance classes paid for, and have to do classes in all sorts of dance styles (not just lindy) at the studio, which does salsa, hip hop, etc as well as lindy.

And then there are a few Russian people living in my area - I hear them talking in Russian on the tram or bus every now and then.

On a slightly different tack, I knew a Polish woman about my age (or a bit older) when I was at unimelb. She told stories about compulsorary military training when she was at high school. It was like me having to learn to use a machine gun and a rocket launcher. She told this story as well (and I paraphrase):

When I was in primary school, we had to go a long way to school each day. In winter, the snow was very heavy and it was hard to get there. We used to catch a bus that was old and didn't run very well. One day the bus didn't come because it had been blown up. So we couldn't get to school on the bus any more - we had to walk. In the winter, we often couldn't get to school at all

And this was a story by a young woman just like me, sitting in a conference room with a bunch of other pgrads who were going to be hosts at the open day. Can you believe that story?

I often think about how Poland wants to become part of the EU (I don't know if they are yet - I haven't checked). And about Turkey. The other night we saw a film on the ABC which starred Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald, which was an odd, quiet film about a shy, awkward English public servant who worked for the councellor of the exchequour (sp?) and met a girl in a coffee shop whom he invited to come with him on a business trip to Reykjavik in Iceland. Turns out it was the G8 meeting. And they were discussing extreme poverty. And this girl is so outspoken about poverty she's asked to leave. It was an interesting film. Mostly about this man's utter discomfort with human relationships, and with this girl's obsession with children. It was called The Girl in the Cafe. We only saw it by accident, but it was interesting.

Iceland seems cold. I once saw a film called Cold Fever about a Japanese guy who has to travel to Iceland to do some rites in memoriam to his parents who died there. That film is quite lovely - sort of cold and still and eery.

Yeah, anyway, there's no point to all these stories, really, I'm just kind of thinking about these cold, snowy countries and places I haven't been. But have seen in films and on telly.

"kind of snowy and cold and, well... no, I have no point." was posted in the category fillums

October 20, 2005

drama, soap opera, cereal

Posted by dogpossum on October 20, 2005 12:38 PM

My obsession with Firefly continues. Maybe I'm understimulated - and that's why I like it so much...
Last night we went to see Night Watch/Nochnoi Dozor, a Russian vampire/woo scary fillum. I didn't mind it...sorry. I know I should have something more interesting to say, but David and Margerate said it all. I mean, I should be going nuts for this flick, what with it being a really interesting Russian contribution to Hollywood (there are 2 more to come and a big fat Hollywood budget for the last one at least, so I've heard), but ... meh. It was ok, and there were bits I quite liked (it was interesting to see something like this set in Moscow), and there were some pretty interesting and unique approaches to cinematography/CGI/subtitles, but... Maybe the next one will blow my pants off. Thing is, being such a fan of vampire/supernatural/sc-fant/sci-fi stuff, my standards are quite high. Well, I'll watch any old woo crap, but to be impressed, I need more.
It was certainly no Fireflly.

On other filmic fronts, Pride and Prejudice is out now, which I'm quite keen on seeing. I'm a bit of an Austen fan, and Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility pleased me immensely (that could just be the Ang Lee factor, though). I'm also a huge fan of lovely period costume and sets.
There's actually a stack of lady-movies out at the moment: In Her Shoes (or whatever it's called), Must Love Dogs etc etc etc. eeeeexxxceeellllent. Though of course, this sudden bounty happens just as I get back into the whole thesis thing. Dang.
Similarly, last night I saw a copy of The Truth About Cats and Dogs in a clearance bin at Kmart for only $11. I should have bought it.

Should I be ashamed of this passion for ladyfilms?
I mostly like them because they're dialogue driven, so you can 'watch' them while you quilt/sew/crochet - it doesn't really matter if you don't watch the screen the whole time. Unlike action films where it's all about watching the screen*. Interestingly, Firefly is about half and half: I could quilt while I watched it (as if!)...

Right now I've taken a break from Diana Wynn Jones (after a million zillion wonderful books) to read Alexander McCall Smith's book 44 Scotland Street which was originally written as a serialised novel in The Scotsman newspaper. Here's a story about that. I quite like it - and I'm facinated by the idea of the format. How GREAT. How oldskool - I keep thinking about how the 'soap opera' or serialised drama format is as old as Dickens.

So it's oldskool to love Firefly.

*I know I should have used the word 'spectacle' here, or made some reference to masculinity and scopophilia but really. That would would be wanky. And kind of dumb.

"drama, soap opera, cereal" was posted in the category books and fillums and television


About dogpossum

i live in melbourne sydney, australia, like jazz music and dance, swear too much, sew, drink a lot of tea and adore puns. ask me about my phd.