Monday 30 November 2009

Milonga de mis perros - lyrics

I couldn't find the lyrics of this milonga I wrote about last Friday, but Anquises has very kindly transcribed it for me (and you). [Update: spotify link, so you can listen, here.]

I have added my own rather free translation at the bottom, attempting to make the English lines fit closely enough to the music that you could sing along if you wanted to understand what you were dancing to, and have the right ideas in the right places.

Mis perros gauchos

Cimarrón, Capitán
ellos son mis camaradas

Yo no tengo más amigos
que mis perros compañeros

Yo no tengo más camaradas
ni los tengo ni los quiero

Cimarrón, Capitán
a mi lado siempre están

Cuando me ven
con un pesar
mis penas dan
en consolar.

El Cimarrón y el Capitán
de la lealtad
hacen galardón.

Si alegre estoy
alegres van
El Cimarrón y el Capitán

No saben qué es
hacer traición
no lo sabrán
ni el Capitán ni el Cimarrón
ni el Cimarrón


My gaucho doggies

Cimarrón, Capitán,
They are my only friends

I don't have no other buddies
Than my dogs to stand beside me
I don't want no other buddies
I don't want none, I don't need none

Cimarrón, Capitán,
they are always here with me

Whey they can see
my chin go down
they try to chase
away the frown

My Cimarrón and Capitán,
They get the prize
for loyalty

* And when I smile
they jump for joy,
do Cimarrón and Capitán
They wouldn't know
how to betray
They wouldn't know
Not Capitán, not Cimarrón.

[Repeats from *]

Not Cimarrón.

Friday 27 November 2009

La Milonga de mis Perros

I have this CD, "Candombe" by Francisco Canaro and orchestra.

On it is Milonga de mis Perros, "Milonga of my dogs". The words are easy to hear (I think - I don't understand it all) but the piece as a whole is a beautiful little tone poem that makes me cry.

The poet has two dogs, who are his only friends, his companions. We learn their names, Cimarrón and Capitán. And we hear their voices, and even their shapes and personalities. They respond when he mentions their names.

Cimarrón (which seems to mean "Runaway" or "Maverick" in the farming sense, or in some contexts an escaped slave) sounds like a little, yappy, bouncing dog, perhaps something like a spaniel. He's played, I think, by the right hand of the bandoneón. Capitán has a deeper voice; he sounds like a bigger dog, perhaps something like a labrador or one of those big hunting dogs that runs around with its nose to the ground - and he's played by the left hand of the bandoneón.

We can hear their pattering feet and the way they run around, jump up and down and play and bark at things, prick up their ears, and come at the word of command.

It's such a brilliant little piece of music. I don't know why it makes me cry.

[Edit: to clarify, the band is Francisco Canaro y su Orquesta Típica, the singer is Carlos Roldán, and the track is dated 1942 and titled La milonga de mis perros and it sounds absolutely nothing like a 'nuevo' track I have somewhere called Milonga de los perros.]

[Update: muuuuuch later, I have worked out how to use Spotify, so if you have Spotify and want to listen (free) to this track, you can do so.]

Thursday 26 November 2009

The Adventures of Saj

I have just been very much cheered up by an overheard conversation on the Tube.

The speaker, who for the purpose of this story I shall call Saj, was a man of about twenty years, insigificant build, immature facial hair, lots of gel, and somewhat deceptively innocent appearance. He described his exploits and adventures as a Londoner and Manchester United supporter (you may now have detected a certain nonconformity) to two friends, the more vocal of whom I shall call Jaz.


So I'm on the Victoria Line and the coach was FULL of Arsenal supporters. I'm there in my United shirt and it's FULL of Arsenal supporters. And me! And they're going "YOU-Manc BAS-tard! YOU-Manc BAS-tard!!"




And then they all got off at, where is it, Finsbury Park. And it was so full, they picked me up and carried me, they carried me, onto the platform with them. About eight of them, they just picked me up.




I couldn't do nothing about it. They just picked me up and carried me, and I was on the platform. And then they went, "YOU-ehhh! YOU-ehhh! YOU-ehh!!" And the train went.




And then they all went. And I had to wait four minutes for another train.


That is quite funny, actually.


And then, I was at Kensington tube, and it was a Champions League night, it was the night United had lost to, to, and Chelsea won, and there was all these Chelsea supporters and they all got on the train.




So I stood there in front of the door and I went "CHEL-sea RENT-boys!! CHEL-sea RENT-boys!!" through the door and the doors closed, and the train moved, and I thought, they can't get me now!




And then one of them pulled the emergency cord!




And the train stopped!




So I went, "Oh, Shit!!" and ran as fast as I could down the platform.




And they nearly stopped me at the front of the station, you know, because they thought, like I'd done something, why the cord was pulled.


He, he, he!


Sometimes I have to question my sanity, I really do.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Who was General Melée, anyway?

I have noticed recently that as soon as there isn't a general melée, it becomes possible for people to tell when they personally do something that eats space or disrupts the flow, because now it makes a difference, when it didn't before. People who always assumed their own floorcraft was fine and all the bumps were someone else's fault, suddenly have convincing evidence that something they normally do, doesn't work.

So they change it. Two or three partners have told me that they were changing their dance for this reason, and I have heard the same about others.

And on the occasion I'm thinking of, even though quite a few people were beginner-to-middling dancers who danced rather mechanically, and so found maintaining the flow quite challenging, it still worked and I didn't get a single touch, even though it was full enough to go to two lanes.

Luckily, it seems the things that do work are often the ones that are simple to lead and follow, which doesn't hurt at all. Ghost noticed that, here, and he experiments with some easy but powerful skills, here.

Monday 23 November 2009

I, too, shall now make every effort ...

... to promote the meme of Dr. Escalate Embuggerance and Dr. Holistic Feisty.

That link's from Language Log, and I'm quoting the commenter called Mertseger. How this accident happened is explained here.

I don't know why, but I feel that Holistic is a female name, like “Holly”, and Escalate is probably, but not necessarily, male. It could be one of those crossover names, like “Evelyn”.

Saturday 21 November 2009

Striped Gecko with Bobble Toes

This is another baby present. The body starts at the nose with Judy's magic cast-on for toe-up socks. The nose increases just like a toe-up sock but with increases every third row instead of every other row. At the end of the increases, I made Aran bobbles for eyes. The body is a tube, using Techknitter's jogless stripes (I allow them to travel). For the tail I decreased at the same rate as the nose, but offset by 45°, so at the centre front and back instead of at the sides.

The fun part is the feet. The toes are aran bobbles, and on the underside is a moss-stitch triangle to represent the velcro feet that geckos have. You could literally sew velcro on, and have a handy toy that sticks to bedcovers, toddlers' clothes, and whatnot.

bobble toesI started the feet at the toes, as follows.

Cast on 25 using Judy's magic cast-on for toe-up socks (i.e. 25 on each needle). Knit 2 rounds.
Round 3: On the top, k2, make bobble, *k4, make bobble, repeat from * 3 more times (5 toes), k2. On the bottom, k2, *p1, k1, repeat from * till 2 st from end, k2.
Round 4 and even rounds: k on top. On bottom, keep seed/moss stitch pattern correct, reserving 2k at each end.
Round 5 and odd rounds: 2 decreases on top and 2 on bottom for each of next 2 odd rounds. Then 4 decreases on each side in following odd rounds till you're down to 9 stitches top and 9 bottom. On the moss stitch side you keep the decreases at the edges, on the top I put them between the toes to make a nice anatomical shape.
Gecko foot underside
When you're down to 9 just knit straight till it is long enough, stuff the foot, and do a 3-needle bind off, leaving a tail the length of your arm for sewing it on.

The way I know of making an Aran bobble is like this, but you could use whatever kind of bobble you please:

Into next stitch, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1 (5 sts on needle).
Turn. P5.
Turn. K5.
Turn. Slip 1, p1, pass slipped st over. P1. P2tog. (3 sts on needle).
Turn. Slip 1, k2tog, pass slipped st over. (Back to 1 st on neede).
Continue from there, as though nothing had happened.

The last step is to embroider the eyes. This has to be done last (same principle as when they paint a religious image in India).
I learned quite a few things making this, some of them the kind of things I ought to have known but that only really come with specific experience. It's not perfect, or even close, and if I was making it again I'd make it a bit differently. I'd make the tail bigger, and the body smaller, I'd add some shaping behind the head, and I might use just two colours and perhaps add a cable down the spine. The moss stitch, to my shame, is messed up on one of the back feet by a misconcieved pattern of decreases. But it was a work of discovery and will be loved by a fellow knitter and her baby, who might be moving to a tropical climate soon.

I really like the bobble toes.

Monday 16 November 2009

I'm busy knitting

I'll get back to you.

Sunday 15 November 2009

Adrian and Amanda Costa - now with transcript

Danny asked for a transcript of this interview in the comments on the previous post; I find it pretty hard to hear, myself, so I should think he's right about not being the only one. I've done my best below, I can't hear every word (Amanda is clearest) but I think I've got all the sense.

CLAIRE LOEWE: What is tango-salon for you, if you could essentially say what is important for you about tango-salón?

ADRIAN: For me tango-salón is, the first, be able to respect the people dancing, I mean, what I think about social dancing, about respect for the other ones; is be able to dance with the music and really know what you are doing with the music; is trying to do that with elegance, and make the womans feeling like a queen.

CLAIRE: [To Amanda]: And do you feel like a queen?

AMANDA: Yes, In his arms yes! Depends on the man. But for me, it's more, the walk; and how a couple can be, er, to share the space with the others; and the, the harmony with the couple and with the others and with the music; and not ... with together, not .. in [inaudible] in opposition with all that.

CLAIRE: All of those things are things you've become very well known for here, people are crazy about you, your musicality, I think until you both came here there hasn't been a teacher really, who has clearly spoken about the musicality, [inaudible] you've spoken about the music, and also about the floorcraft, you know, how every single figure fits in with the direction, the first things, it feels like, you've taken tango a level up in London, singlehandedly, the two of you, have done that because your teaching is so clear. So, I really want to thank you for that, if I see the dance which you've brought [inaudible] to our school here, [inaudible] ... hopefully, my students, they're respecting each other, I hope there's no fighting going on as we're talking here, maybe, behind us, there's somebody ... it looks pretty good.

AMANDA: They are walking!

ADRIAN: [inaudible]

CLAIRE: They're in their lanes. And they're doing - how are they doing? [inaudible] the experience of teaching here?

AMANDA: In this place, it's very easy because you gave all the fundamental things, the ball-room, the technique of the ball-room, the embrace, the posture, the walk, so, it's easier. In the other part of London, it's more like a fight. But - we win, together. We win sometimes - not win, it's not a fight, but, we convince to do less, and with more quality, than more, and without quality. There are more ... [fades out].

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Adrian and Amanda Costa talking to Claire Loewe

I'd like to see more of this kind of thing. Old milongueros talking are fascinating, but they're not available to teach us, so it's nice to hear teachers who are available to us from time to time, and are young and likely to remain available, talking about what matters to them and what they think they are trying to transmit. Here, Claire Loewe asks Adrian Costa to summarise what tango is to him. He does good job of that, and then Amanda adds her own nuance.

I would have liked to hear the rest of what Amanda says at 02:35 that starts "not a fight, but, we convince ..." (What I think she's saying sounds like a good plan, but it fades out to their performance before I can be sure).

Thanks Tango South London for doing it and posting it.

Monday 9 November 2009

Good writing about good writing about clothes

Anne Hollander in Seeing Through Clothes, which is about the history of representations of the body and clothing in Western art:

[George Eliot] speaks of the kinds of bonnets that “were then the fate of women,” and she magnificently describes the way a lady sobbing in the transports of deep distress must yet contrive, with a nicely calibrated blend of instinct and calculation, to rush through a narrow door without crushing her wide buckram sleeves. George Eliot must herself have seen it done in the enormous fashionable sleeves of 1830, when she was an observant eleven-year-old girl.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Present in progress

Present in progress
Originally uploaded by mshedgehog
I've recovered, at last, from the blue thing, and I'm starting to be more productive. Here's a present for the next baby in my knitting group. At the moment it's just a striped tube with bobble eyes, but it's going to have interesting feet.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Generous dancers

Something a few of my very favourite male dancers have in common is not a particular style or technique, but a great personal generosity in their dance, especially when the woman is not very experienced, or is someone they don't know. (I'm sure lots of women are notable for it as well, I just don't know because I don't dance with them).

One of them was the person who danced a vals with me at my very first milonga and made it seem perfectly straightforward and tons of fun and gave me enough courage to keep on with the classes despite the fool who, fifteen minutes later, persisted with the vague leads, pained looks, and incomprehensible verbal instructions until I could no longer hold back tears.

You dance who you are, up to a point, and I have always assumed it must be a reflection of character. But I don't really know. Even if it is, you probably need a certain level of skill to express it successfully. I don't know exactly which skills are important, but Ampster has written a beautiful piece about that, and the rewards of gaining them.

But I can tell you what it feels like. It feels like a reflection of someone who not only likes women as people, but actively enjoys the idea that we're not necessarily perfect or under control.

I don't ask this quality of everybody's dance. There are lots of ways to be a lovely dancer, that's part of the interest, and this is just one. But if you see that possibility in yourself, wherever you are, cultivate it, because it will be a real contribution to your scene.