Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Jumpin’ Jive

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A spiralling clock face with clock hands on the inner curves of the spiral

Late

As always, it seems I am running late.

I don’t think I used to always be late for everything.

During my first year of college I lived with my chronically late sister and her husband. I remember being really very angry with her that we were late for my grandfather’s funeral. (No matter what, she always blamed being late on her husband. Now her ex-husband.)

I think I was better when I was on my own, but then I got married. Great guy, everybody loves him (even me) but he brought new meaning to the word “late”.

He seemed really brilliant when he pointed out that it’s better to arrive late than to get in a car accident and possibly not arrive at all. Of course, after decades of being late for things (to the point where people seriously contemplate lying to us to ensure we don’t miss the wedding, say…) here I am blaming my husband. But it IS him. Really. It should have been a clear tip off when we were dating and arranged to meet at the movie theatre where we were supposed to see a double bill with a group of friends. I ended up sitting in the lobby for two– count them two — movies. And I married him anyway, go figure.

Yes it’s frustrating. And sometimes it is my fault that we’re late. But not usually.

The advantage is, when things I am doing take longer than I think they should/will etc., my “late” husband understands. Awesome.

That seems to happen more and more. Maybe it has to do with getting older, time sure seems to be whizzing past at an awesome rate. I seem to be awfully busy doing so many things and yet everything takes longer to get done. Like my novel. Still not finished the first draft, but I will be soon. Really.

Cover Art for the novel Grease Town

This post was ACTUALLY supposed to be a review of Ann Towell’s “Grease Town”, but I’m not finished reading it yet. It isn’t a big book, not like Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon (thanks Pavel), which I’m pretty sure will require a much larger investment of active thinking. I’m holding off on that one until I can give it full attention after my first draft is done. Gone are the days when I can juggle a half dozen books and eight subjects in and given school day.

In the interests of getting the first draft finished, this will be my last blog post, with the possible exception of my promised review.

my music

My last post was my personal look at Country Music, which was the music I grew up with. Today I want to talk about the music that I listen to now.

Although I’m happy to be in the audience, music is really important to me. I must have music to write to. Music can help lift me out of crankiness, or it can lay down the mood I need to write. You know it’s a good sound track when you have no idea there was one after the movie is over. Soundtrack albums are excellent music to write to. If it’s a good soundtrack, it is perfect for laying down a background in my mind.

Fun, upbeat music is always a bonus. I love the Arrogant Worms and Jimmy Buffett for fun alone. I love music with good and clever lyrics… I’m a word person after all. Annie Lennox and Paul Simon have some of the most beautifully crafted lyrics going. It can be a story, or it may be words or pseudo words that sound good together. And I’m just learning about Zydeco and Acadian music.

Like much of the rest of the world I discovered Scott Joplin and ragtime with the movie The Sting, but still I only just heard of Stride Piano last summer when I heard Michael Kaeshammer for the first time at the The Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival. That was when I first heard Julie Crochetière sing too. She’s such a versatile performer that dozens of different words are used with varying degrees of accuracy in attempts to label her.

Because although I like a lot of different types of music, really, my very favorite music is jazz. Naturally.

In the 1940’s musicals were the equivalent of the rock videos of today. I wasn’t born yet, but I grew up watching black and white movies on TV.

Close up laughing portrait of Cab Calloway

This is one of my favorite musical sequences of all time. Beginning with rakish young Cab Calloway (hubba hubba) performing one of his standards (well it is now, it may not have been then) and introducing the Nicholas Brothers in one of the most spectacular dance numbers ever seen on film.

Although himself no slouch on the dance floor, Cab cleverly yields the stage to the Nicholas Brothers because he knows nobody can touch them.

Since the film clip from Stormy Weather is of decent quality I recommend watching it in full screen format.

Pouring Beer at a college party

I’ve always wanted to be able to dance.

Somehow when I hit my self-conscious teens I lost any ability I may ever have had. This sad reality was compounded in college where I avoided having to dance because I spent parties tending bar. (So that I wouldn’t have to hit the dance floor.)

I love music (well. hey, somebody has to be the audience) and I have great rhythm sitting down where I can bop til I drop… until I stand up that is. That’s when the “bop” evaporates.

I’ve been told that my inability to dance is all in my head and that I can’t possibly be that bad… until people try to dance with me.

A long time ago in an apartment far far away

When my friend John worked on the movie Mrs. Soffel with Mel Gibson, every woman John knew begged and pleaded to be his date for the wrap party.

This was when Mr. Gibson‘s popularity was on the rise– the Year of Living Dangerously poster graced my living room wall at the time.

That is still one of my favorite movies… thank you Peter Weir.

Now you have to understand that John is a natural dancer. Grace and rhythm flowed out his pores…. he could dance like magic because he loved to dance. Even so, because we were such good friends John agreed to take me— two left feet and all– to the wrap party (woo hoo!).

But only on the condition that I learn to dance first. Eeek.

The Year of Living Dangerously Poster with a bit of Raiders on the side

John drilled me and made me practice and miracle of miracles got me to the point that I wouldn’t embarrass him. Thanks to John — this amazingly terrible dancer — me — not only had the opportunity meet Mel Gibson (who was actually a very nice guy) — but I even got to dance with him.

Thanks John!

Sadly without regular drilling (John moved far away and my husband is not a good enough dancer to rise above my failings) my dancing has fallen into even worse limbo… Hmmm, perhaps “limbo” isn’t not the best choice of words. Anyway, my husband and I have talked about taking ballroom dancing lessons for years. Maybe now is the time.

Maybe its time while we still have moving parts.

One last bit of inspiration:

Cab Calloway and his Orchestra in a Fleischer Studios Betty Boop cartoon.


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