Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Very Happy New Year for 2009 !!!

Have a great great 2009 guys - full of great great guys and other stuff.

And between bouts with all these great great guys, guys, drop on by! And tell us all about it! And remember, detail is everything.

And you could also share any interesting or stimulating activity occurring between your ears that you think we might want to hear, discuss or whatever.

Some of the bubble and squeak at Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge tonight ...

... the kiddies 9pm fireworks - the warm-up for the totally more fab big peoples' fireworks at midnight!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Eartha Kitt (1927-2008) - So Much More Than A Gay Icon

Of Cherokee, African-American, Dutch and German descent and famously described by Orson Wells as 'the most exciting woman in the world', Eartha Kitt began her career as a dancer with the Katherine Dunham Company in the 1940's.

And then took a turn into singing ...

'Just An Old-Fashioned Girl' (1962)

... and acting (movies and television [Catwoman in the 'Batman' series]) ...

... and Broadway and ... and ... and ... .

A bit of a Leonardo da Vinci of entertainment, Eartha Kitt was also politically aware and an implacable activist. I remember seeing her as a kid in London where she stopped the show to vituperatively tirade the audience - I was too young to be aware of the particular issue - just the intensity and conviction.

This activism later extended to participating in benefits for HIV/AIDS ...

'Love for Sale'

Eartha Kitt was one of the first to put real hot-blooded raunchy real sex back into open and public consideration - the subject having taken a big big nose-dive after the 'roaring twenties'. Though constructing it to an extent in conventional terms to buy wider acceptablity.

Her later work was somewhat self-parody but there was always a sense of this even in the early performances. Again her strategy to be more palatable in conservative times.

Eartha Kitt was big fearless person ... and knew what she was about.

She should be truly missed!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Margaret Cho - Korean Kabuki Meets Bette Midler Meets ... ?

Memory is a funny thing - I recall being apoplectic with laughter (chocking, actually) when I first saw Margaret Cho.

So of course I was excited when the thought of posting her came to me today ... and was anticipating lots and lots and lots of fun choosing the video. So many to choose from ... so little space on Blogger.

But :< - or in the inimitable Margaret Cho face ...


... not really killing, at all!

But having said all this, she is still pretty great, considering the 'opposition' in the comedy industry. And it's really the totality of the Margaret Cho personna that's the point rather than the specifics of any particular performance.

And so from what seems the best on offer:

On a recent interview in US TV, Margaret Cho said that these days she's preferring sex with women, adding:

'I like my women real butch ... I like the kind that roll their own tampons'

So the gay jokes here are very fine, very - you know what I mean!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Joseph Pujol (1857-1945) - 'Le Petomane' of Le Moulin Rouge

I guess a lot of people think of Le Moulin Rouge in terms related (though perhaps somewhat removed) to things artistic - probably due to the lithographs of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.

While not aesthetically in the same league as the great can can dancer La Goulue (Louise Weber), Joseph Pujol was also pretty damn popular at the night club in the 1890's.

Joseph Pujol

His work and popularity more there than located that establishment at the grittier and Rabelaisian end of music hall spectrum!

Okay, I'll give you a hint as to his special 'talent':

Yep, you got it in one! The bending over pic is unmistakable. A fartist! A dying breed, if ever they were anything else but.

Born in Marseilles, Pujol discovered his amazing facility swimming in the sea as a child. He could - at will - take in large quantities of water and - equally at will - expel it.

Of course water turned to air and after his debut in Paris in 1887 and some touring of the provinces, he went very big time at Le Moulin Rouge in 1892 - becoming an instant sensation.

Each emission of the performance would be properly introduced:

This is a little girl

This is a bride on her wedding night (small noise)

This is a bride the morning after (much larger rasping noise)

This is a cannon (very large noise)

And so on, with the audience apoplectic with laughter. No high art going on here!

And of course Pujol had his pièce de résistance - blowing out candles:

Curiously, a descendant of Philipe Gallant, Pujol's assistant, claims to have the first 'explosion' of the De Sousa march 'Stars and Stripes' - captured at Le Moulin Rouge 5 February 1906:

I know you will expect this next bit!

Rare disque ODEON 19 cm N°6219 Monsieur LEFIRES Le célèbre Pétomane PARIS 1903

You'd imagine that Pujol would've faded into total obscurity after his death in 1945, but his life is the subject of a short film by Leonard Rossiter - 'Le Petomane' (1979) ...

Extract from 'Le Petomane' (1979)

... and of this French song ...

French Song

Now I always thought the appreciation of flatulence was mainly an English thing. Along with other kinds of toilet humour. But a quick YouTubing shows it as global phenomenon!

So a few clips to make the point:

Not sure bout the veracity of the the last one - but do we care!

If you claim not to have laughed during any of these - you are DEFINITELY LYING!!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chopsticks (筷子. 筷) as My Madeleine

I read Proust's 'A la recherche du temps perdu' ('Remembrance of Things Past') at university and understood the psychological insights embodied in his reaction to tasting the 'madeleine', the lynch pin for the unfolding of the novel.

But I only full appreciated it yesterday, dusting a pair of late C19 Japanese lady's chopsticks. Brought back from a 'grand tour' of 1890 by Great Great Aunt Serena (Mimi), front row, middle, in 1897 ...

... and in the 1950's ...

A stream of memories seemed to chaotically tumble out around the room.

I knew Mimi in her nineties - I was up to three or four. Someone whose unguarded sweetness and great openness with children makes you remember them vividly for the rest of your life!

A few of the torrent of my remembrances of yesterday.

Her sitting me on her knee - I still recall the hard boniness through the flower-print cotton dress.

And singing 'Little Brown Jug', with the delight of sharing her joy in the music.

With the laughing and boisterous hugs and kisses at the end.

The something strange about her face. Which I only learned later was a glass eye. And so more appreciated the boldness of a young woman traveling the late C19 world of China, India, Japan and Egypt to Europe.

Finally, my almost favorite flashbacks.

The grand gesture of her putting on lipstick - a quick unsteady slash across her mouth, unknowingly and crazily 'colouring in' her false teeth. Not seeing was no reason not to care about appearance!

The too much powder. And its fragrance.

Competing with lavender perfume.

Big square thin hands. And their silky dry skin. And liverspots.

Long thin arms.

The red cut-glass bead necklace.

Small straw hats.

A sensory flooding of sensations bathed in a generalized emotion of tender loving and protection.

But I am also careful in such real remembering of Christopher Isherwood's caution in 'Christopher and His Kind' against unconsciously manufacturing. But these recollections are important to me, even now!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Magical Amber City and Fort, Rajasthan, India

A thriving trade centre by the C10 AD, Amber City and its fort are one of those magical places you tend only to come across by accident - it's very out-of-the-way and with no direct train line.

I only heard about it through the driver of our all-India taxi - one of those amazing Indian ideas that has for some reason or other has not caught on in the rest of the world. You hire the car and driver for a period - a day/week/month/? - and go wherever on the sub-continent.

And so, as we headed off towards Jaisalmer in far western Rajasthan (via Pushkar, Jaipur, Udaipur, Fatapur Sikri), we made a detour to Amber City. And on arrival there, headed for the 'Elephant Stand' - as you do!

After rejecting a diminutive broken tusked animal (the RSPCA would not approve!), we each mounted our A1 specimens ...

... and were on our way up to the fort:

While the interior is interesting enough ...

... what is really the thing at the fort is the roof ...

... and its extraordinary view over the countryside ...

Mind-blowingly beautiful and breath-taking.

So next time you're in India, it'd be a capital offense to miss this - don't you think?

NB: The first two photos are from the net, the rest are mine.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Very Early Xmas Greetings!!!

Just found this truly wonderful 1898 film 'Santa Claus' by George Albert Smith (1864-1959) - at

Not great just cos it's so old but cos of its innovative film techniques and storyboard.

It begins with two children, a boy and a girl, eagerly and expectantly looking up a chimney in their bedroom.

A white-bonneted and aproned maid comes to put them to bed. She tucks them in with great care, and turns out the gas light.

Within this darkened scene, an inset disc appears, showing the roof. Flurries of snow ... and then Santa's arrival, with a sack of presents and a Xmas tree on his back. He climbs down the brick chimney.

To appear a moment later in the children's bedroom.

Leaving the tree on the floor, he fills the Xmas stockings at the end of their bed with presents: two sacks for each child! I think it's a doll going into the first two.

Then he picks up his tree, waves ... and, in a flash, disappears!

The children wake immediately and, like pigs searching for truffles, feverishly route through their stockings.

Really charming. Really!

So have a good Christmas guys, and a Happy New Year.

And if you don't, I'll wanna know why!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If You Think You've Got It Real Hard ...

If you imagine your life is tough, then this video will give you pause to think and re-consider. It did me.

Cos there's hard and then there's ... HARD!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Just for a Laugh (or Two)

Not half bad, eh?

Friday, December 5, 2008

David Archuleta Revisited - 'Stand By Me'

I got caught up in the seventh 'American Idol' - as you do. And with everyone else thought David Archuleta was just the greatest thing since sliced bread.

And I was wondering if I'd think the same today - and so decided to YouTube 'Stand By Me'.

Blew my fuckin' socks off!

A great arrangement that somehow didn't disturb the musical spirit of the original. Sung with a great 'classical' sense of proportion, pace, taste and restraint - that can't be learned. With the right number of thrilling vocal high-lights.

David seems to 'have it all' (ack. Samantha 'Sex and the City') - can't wait to see how his career takes off!!!