Sunday, February 07, 2010


HERE is my interview of sorts with the playwright Will Eno. He makes many very worth-pondering comments therein and proves himself the sort of vertical fellow you'd want by your side during a midnight knife fight in an alley down by the docks. In the most metaphorical sense.

Friday, January 29, 2010


I'm stunned that it took so long for me to happen upon this most arcadian of musical sub-genres - the American Football Theme Song. By 'happen upon' I mean my sister sent me a clip, which eventually led to the merriest of merry few moments as I discovered how widereaching and unashamedly perfect this style of music clip is. Consider this my gift to you on this fine Friday afternoon.

The LA Rams in "Ram It!" Every second of this one is a second well spent.

Miami Dolphins out-awesome Hammer with "Can't Touch Us".

The Chicago Bears get old school with "The Superbowl Shuffle". I haven't done the research but this sexy number may have been the one to start them all.

The Oakland Raiders' quite awful "Silver and Black Attack".

And the sublime comedy-chase-scene car crash that is the Seahawks' "Locker Room Rock".

Really, if any sports team or individual in Australia released a song in this fashion I would become a devoted lifelong fan in an instant. This is a promise

Thursday, November 12, 2009


A couple of weeks ago I had a sudden and unsummoned memory of a show I watched when I was a kid and today I remembered to hunt it down. That’s the kind of busy lifestyle I lead, suckas.

It really was a special show, so take my hand (not so hard!) and come revisit THAT’S INCREDIBLE!

THAT’S INCREDIBLE! was a 1980s program wholly devoted to showcasing INCREDIBLE things, which as often as not turned out to be mildly interesting things or just filler. 

Here’s a clip of an episode intro. Highlights include:

1- The opening moment which combines awful audience screaming with the finest font ever developed for network television.

2- A studio set entirely composed of shades of brown, camel, beige, mushroom and mustard.

3- Co-host John Davidson’s Power Stance ™ at 0.9 and his Bold & Beautiful hair and face.

4- The jawdropping promise of showing us “the world’s most incredible talkers”.

5- Co-host Cathy Lee Crosby’s uncomfortable torso swivelling and restless arms during her intro (0.19), which shout “awkward eight-year-old in the back row of the end-of-year choir concert”.

6- The fashion sense of Jim Bullet Bailey’s glove-putter-onners.

7- Jim Bullet Bailey.

8- Fran Tarkenton, a man who has a) a woman’s name, b) Travis Bickle’s smile, c) Alan Partridge’s hair and suit.

9- Davidson’s walk at 0.50, where his legs akimbo Power Stance ™ is supplanted by the floppy-handed, stoop-shouldered stumble of a man who downed a few white wine spritzers before tonight’s broadcast.

10- Tarkenton’s walk at 0.52, where he ignores the fact that the studio stairs are a bit too short and therefore require small steps rather than manly strides. The result is that his hair ends up beating like wings.

11- Crosby’s hurried walk a second later, where she looks like she’s running for the elevator.

12- Tarkenton’s excited fake banter to his co-hosts at 1.00, where he is clearly telling an INCREDIBLE! anecdote, possibly of a slightly bawdy nature. In case you can’t tell, Tarkenton was the ‘funny’ one of the group.


14- The parachutists and the flames that follow, but they’re par for the course. At this point, I’m still thinking about THE THING THAT HAPPENED AT 1.09

15- The totally different audience and studio they cut to just before the clip ends.

Let’s have a look.

What I really loved about the show was the pure sense of wonder to which it appealed. There are plenty of similar things today but they always seem either cynical, embarrassedly ironic or just plain cruel. THAT’S INCREDIBLE! was the televisual equivalent of your friend who is always sending you links to the MOST AMAZING/HILARIOUS THING ON THE INTERNET OMFG!!!! It was so excitable it made you excited too, even if you were just watching cats playing in the kitchen. In fact, I think that THAT’S INCREDIBLE! is probably partly responsible for much of the shape of our culture today, but it is of an Eden-like innocence to which we can never truly return. Goodbye, my old Fran.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I completely screwed up the html code for this site the other day. Be glad if you missed it. It wasn't pretty. I don't even really know what html code is, which might give you a hint.

Anyway, it's mostly back now.


I've set up another blog.

Born Dancin' clearly hasn't been focused on the arts for a while now. Unless "ants" was "html code" for "ARTS". Which it wasn't.

So this place will remain a spot for "Born Dancin'" to post, while over at the other blog you'll be able to read arts-related guff by "John Bailey", who was never truly welcome here and sometimes had to be shooed out the door with a broom. You can of course also continue to read writing by John Bailey (no quotation marks) elsewhere too.

Thank you.
I will see you at the other blog? We can get icypoles and go boating.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Died Dancin'

This is the best.

When this week's threethousand newsletter, which is probably properly termed something more technical, or at least technical-sounding, such as ' e-letter', although 'e' is a letter, therefore making me confused if I get lost thinking about it, arrived, I saw the words "Dancing Plague" and thought: "YES".

The skinny: in 1518 in Strasbourg (a city I only know about due to its very admirable astrological clock and automata) a woman began dancing madly in the street. She danced for four to six days. People soon joined her and within a month there were around 400 dancers. Most of them keeled over due to the stress your body probably feels if you've been dancing for a week straight. These days I can hardly struggle through a single song, even if I dance like an old Italian man swaying to "Volare" at a distant family member's wedding. Which is in most other respects how I usually view myself.

So these people were dancing until they died and as expected this became a bit of a concern. What did the authorities prescribe?


Actually, since I'm just paraphrasing (or downright plagiarising) the wikipedia page here, I might as well just copy and paste the whole paragraph on this point:

"As the dancing plague worsened, concerned nobles sought the advice of local physicians, who ruled out astrological and supernatural causes, instead announcing that the plague was a "natural disease" caused by "hot blood". However, instead of prescribing bleeding authorities encouraged more dancing, in part by opening two guildhalls and a grain market, and even constructing a wooden stage. The authorities did this because they believed that the dancers would only recover if they danced continually night and day. To increase the effectiveness of the cure, authorities even paid for musicians to keep the afflicted moving."

There's so much goodness in that para.

Firstly, I like the physicians "ruling out" supernatural causes.
Secondly, I like that "hot blood" was once a more reasonable sounding diagnosis than "devils" or "restless goat spirits" or whatever.
Thirdly, I like that Diana Ross' Upside Down came on as I was reading the section.
Fourthly, they're dancing themselves to death so we need MORE DANCING.
Fifthly, they built a stage and hired a band? And converted three public buildings into discos?

What an awesome story, by which I mean tragic loss of life, by which I really mean awesome story (if anyone reading lost a distant ancestor in this event, you have my sincere condolences and also: you are clearly of awesome genetic stock).

Anyway, it wasn't just Strasbourg.

Between the 14th and 18th centuries, all over Europe, there was swingin', there was swayin', there were municipally-appointed musicians playin', and there was dancin' in the streets. "Dancing mania" affected populations in what's now Germany, France and the Netherlands.

What kind of dancing were they doing? In all instances chronicles asserted that it was dancing, not epileptic spasms or just jumping around. If my eighth-grade understanding of history (which mostly consisted of teachers putting on Hollywood movies depicting whatever period we were supposed to be studying) is reliable, most of the 'dancing' of this period involved people playing slow-motion patty-cake while walking in circles.

An aside: The 'tarantella' supposedly developed in a similar way. People who had been bitten by a tarantula were ordered to dance hard and fast in order to sweat the poison out.


What can we learn from all of this? I think the lessons here are obscure and convoluted, much like the gnarly sentence at the top of this post with its nested clauses and grammatically correct but horrible-to-parse employment of parataxis.

That is all.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I was in a taxi a while back and BBC World was on the radio. A report came on discussing the ban on minarets in Switzerland. I was incredulous. So was the taxi driver. Neither of us could believe a country could put a ban on minarets. Minarets?!

The taxi driver and I spoke at the same time – I said “you can’t ban an architectural style!” He said “They’re just puppets for god’s sake!”


B. Fleischmann is a lovely Austrian electronic music maker, and I was listening to his song 24.12. when I was writing the above lines. It's a beautiful song - the vocals especially. I was surprised when I brought up the clip for the track and found the following words scrawled across the top:

"When the marionettes started to pull the strings, they noticed that stoking fear helps to keep the strings hold tight. But I think: Angst is not a Weltanschauung!"


Angst is not a Weltanschauung.


Fleischmann puts the elan back into melancholy. Or melancholie.


On Sunday I caught Slava’s Snowshow. I wasn’t sure about going, as I had a sneaking suspicion that I’d actually seen it before. I get that with some of the Big International Shows – P. Genty’s stuff always brings on debilitating déjà vu, for instance. Turns out I hadn’t seen Snowshow.

Sitting behind me and one seat to my right was a kid of about 10. He really, really loved the show. I got the feeling he’d never been to The Theatre before. He was shrieking with pleasure (so were other kids around the auditorium) and would imitate the clownish nonsense-talking that occurred on stage. You could basically tell he’d be spending the next few weeks recalling his favourite bits and reenacting them at school for all his friends.

Maybe he doesn’t have any friends. I shouldn’t assume that.

His excitement was only matched by his parents’ (or guardians’) insistence that he sit down and shut up. They were volubly annoyed that he wasn’t acting like a proper audience member but was getting too involved, physically. They scolded him, repeatedly, almost incessantly.

At the end of the show, when the famous giant balloons flew out across the audience, he was exactly one row away from being able to touch them. They bounced off the balcony above him and he kept trying in vain to stretch out and bat one away. I left and gave him my seat, and he went nuts.


It is a theatre which escapes definition and the unequivocal understanding of its actions, as from attempts to usurp its freedom.

From “What Is My Kind of Theatre?” By Slava Polunin


The child in any audience is a minaret. The audience is not a weltanschauung!


I could continue this directionless ambling but I am one of those marionettes too and my strings only reach so far.

I guess I’ll

have to switch to Plan B which was to go shopping

and text a bunch of friends for no reason.


The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


Friday, August 14, 2009

5pm Friday

0.01 We open with a young and nigh on unrecognisable Magda Szubanski on the skins – really hammering away to somehow produce what sounds like someone tapping a few plastic pens on their desk. Throughout the rest of the clip, Magda will continue this earnest style of playing, which can charitably be described as ‘workmanlike’.

0.04 A panning shot gives us a tantalising glimpse of a handsome orange pirate shirted bass-player, and the next cut almost provides us with his identity – but alas, a fine curtain of oily locks prevents us from instantly recognising his chiselled features.

0.08 Aaaah: tracking down a bank of keyboards, we can already tell that they are arranged in descending order of smoothness, and for this track we’re going to reach way down to the smoooooth smooth bottom.

0.14 The keyboard player himself, Mr Wayne Cook of Steppenwolf, certainly merits that satisfied grin he’s wearing. Sure, he’s knocking some super smooth keys here and know he has a hit, but here’s a spoiler: he also knows that he’s about to pull out one of Rock’s Finest Moments of Ultimate Power in about two minutes time.

0.16 And here he is, the Moses of Rock, our gently-mulleted guide through the wastelands, lead singer Peter Beckett whose real name is probably Derek, I think we can all agree.

You can tell that Derek is British from the outset as his expression seems permanently set to “resentful”. In fact the whole clip can be read as a struggle between his innate annoyance at his basic lot in life and the commercial need to appear sexy and cool with his rock god status.

0.24 I don’t know who this guy is. He looks like he’s uncomfortable being in shot. Sort of like he once committed a crime and was positively identified but managed to flee across state lines and start up a new life. But the thought that someone who knew him back west may one day turn on the tube and see him, and pick up the phone and start in effect a chain-reaction that could only end with him doing twenty to life with a cellmate name Bearclaw, well, no wonder he’s trembling slightly.

0.25-0.36 The guys look like they’re essentially taking a break here, which is a pretty bold move twenty-five seconds into the song. Magda probably isn’t too happy up the back since her solid protestant work ethic at least demands that every put in a bit of effort until this thing is properly moving, but she’s silent on the issue. And we haven’t even had a good look at our orange pirate yet.

0.37 There we go, Derek’s soon-to-be trademark look of petty injustice. “What do you mean there’s no more orange juice in the green room? SOD THIS.”

0.43 Cook’s jaunty keyboard work definitely suggests he has something wicked up his sleeve. “Oh, the guys are gonna LOVE this,” he smiles to himself.

0.48 “I was parked there for maybe a minute,” thinks Derek, “and it wasn’t even marked as a towaway zone. And what’s that bloody Steppenwolf session guy up to back there? He better not try any cheap rock theatrics. This is MY clip.”

0.52 More sneery Derek- WAIT A MINUTE! The orange pirate is none other than Ridge Forrester from the Bold and the Beautiful! What the dickens?

0.59 Magda’s not one to lose focus in the presence of daytime soap royalty, and continues her steadfast work with all of the polish of an afterschool lollipop lady.

1.22 Our first really good look at Ridge, and my word that pirate shirt is even more impressive than we’d at first realised.

1.26 Magda can see the song’s half-way mark coming up soon and is looking forward to finishing up so she can get home to a nice pie and some steamed vegies, and perhaps something nice will be on the box. It’s nice to unwind after a long day like that, isn’t it?

1.32 “All day long,” sings Derek, “wearing a mask of false bravado… trying to keep up a smile and hide the tears…” Well, you’re not REALLY, are you Derek? I mean, I’d say you’re less trying to keep up a smile and more wearing a mask that speaks volumes about the venue’s poor plumbing.

2.04 I can’t properly see here but it looks as if they are either playing on a white floor (not good commercial sense as it would surely get scuffed) or else they have the smog machine cranked up to create a foot mist, as if these man-gods were actually on some heavenly plane itself, and not the cheap studio that charges $40 an hour if you bring your own PA. Or it could just be a refraction from all the hairspray floating around.

2.11 It’s obvious why Ridge has been so forcibly absented from this clip. His apollonian cheekbones, like the mountainous ranges from which he draws his name, along with his darkly glittering eyes, flexible morals and outstanding ability to rock a four-string make him the group’s only real contender for proper Rock Star Status.
2.18 The hairspray thesis has been confirmed.

Not much going on for the next 15 seconds, so just take a minute to ready yourself for what’s coming up at 2.34.

2.34 Which would be Rock’s Finest Moment of Ultimate Power. Accompanied with a little shoulder roll flourish at the end.

2.41 Derek sneaks in an urgent gesture to the Mysterious Guy, which says “did you SEE that arsehole? Did you SEE it? He’s a freakin’ session musician!” Mysterious Guy tries not to draw attention to himself.

2.45 Derek continues his rage – his movements scream “I’M the star here. ME.”

2.47 Ridge half-pulls off another awesome rock moment, possibly just to enrage Derek further. Oh you coy fox, Ridge.

2.50 Derek is now all “Look, I don’t care anymore, I really don’t. I’m over it. OVER. IT.”

2.59 Ridge just keeps amping up the jolly rock antics, and the group’s cohesion continues to suffer. It looks like they might not even be able to keep it together until the end of the song. This will be a shame.

3.14 This super smooth vocal breakdown and fade proves it – this whole thing was a shambles and the guys aren’t going to finish it. They were wrong. Better to just trail off now and get their deposit back.

3.17 OH NO YOU DON’T! NOT ON MAGDA’S WATCH! Her expression is 100% “GET BACK TO WORK, BOYS”.

3.15 And work they do! You can see the steely determination with which they round out the song; the only thing holding them back now is Derek’s surly, outraged schoolboy prefect look, which stubbornly refuses to go away.

3.28 Ridge is perhaps getting a little too enthusiastic with is bass here. He may be trying to arouse Derek, however, by discussing past conquests in graphic detail.

3.36 Derek returns a look to Ridge that says “Fuck OFF, I know how to be sexy!”

3.39 Always the morale-booster, Magda bangs the drums while howling “Do it, Derek, do it!”

3.45 And our lead singer FINALLY brings sexy back, or at least has an ice cube dropped down his back in order to do a passable imitation.


In the comments on YouTube, a number of people recall it as the ‘mop song’ – it was used in a commercial for mops in the US, apparently. I can only imagine how it feels when your manager sits you down to break the big news that your No. 1 hit track is up for some filthy lucre: an advertising deal! Let’s buy a 747! Hold on lads, it’s… it’s for mops.

The silence that followed that announcement must have been profound. These bright young men offered to sell their souls to the devil and the highest bid came from a mop company. And they said yes.
This may explain Derek’s expression, actually.