Those prissy Aussies

I don’t usually think of Australians as particularly prudish — brash and outspoken are more common stereotypes — so this story about the Anglican Church Grammar School banning gay partners at their dances seems a little out of character. I know we’ve got some Australian commenters, so I expect they’ll correct my misunderstanding and explain that their compatriots are all fussy little schoolmarms who faint at the slightest whiff of ribaldry.

Anyway, the headmaster tries hard to justify the decision. There are “protocols and decorums,” he says. Another school follows suit; they want to maintain “gender balance” (that one’s easy: invite lesbians as well as gay boys!)

They haven’t yet brought out the most powerful excuse. These are all boys schools, and as everyone knows, there is never any homosexual activity among randy young teenagers cooped up in a school in which no members of the opposite sex are ever allowed to be present.


  1. Erin says

    This isn’t altogether uncommon, actually. My school in the US (private, Catholic) does the same thing. It isn’t explicitly listed in the rules, but it IS “strongly discouraged.” Despite the fact that a few out and gay students attend our school (and probably several more in the closet) they generally don’t come to our dances with a partner, and it’s pretty clear that this is because of a decision pressure from the school administration.

    My school also- so I assume other schools do, too- takes pregnant students down to the office and “asks that they leave.” This doesn’t happen often, as maybe a student every two years gets pregnant. If the student chooses not to leave, the school usually finds a different reason to expel them.

    I find this slightly ironic. Expelling pregnant students does very little to discourage them from getting abortions, which, as a Catholic school, you think they’d be all for. So much for ‘supportive’ and ‘pro-life.’

  2. wazza says

    Speaking as a former student at a boy’s school, homophobia is rampant, strongly connected with any difference from the norm, and I can’t imagine anyone outing themselves unless they had an amazing group of supportive friends and had reached the final year, when they get their own room.

    Much the same thing happens in girl’s schools, as a bisexual friend of mine has told me recently.

    I also went to a school run by born-again christians (because they need two goes to get it almost-right) and the homophobia there was amazing. One of my acquaintances, who loved good music, stopped listening to Elton John when she found out he was gay.

    On the other hand, one of my friends had an open lesbian relationship in an australian school, and I assume the same thing is possible here in NZ outside the single-gender schools and those run by the religious freaks.

  3. JT says

    I find this slightly ironic. Expelling pregnant students does very little to discourage them from getting abortions, which, as a Catholic school, you think they’d be all for. So much for ‘supportive’ and ‘pro-life.’

    Even worse than that, it’s completely contrary to the goal of reducing teen pregnancy. Seeing the difficulties that teen parents go through is one of the best ways to get children to really understand why they don’t want to be in that position.

    But instead of taking the logical action they try to hide the problem. It’s like deceit and ignorance is so ingrained in there way of thinking that they can’t be open even when it suits their purposes.

  4. Scott says

    One of my college roommates also went to an all-boys Catholic school (in the US) and he had some interesting stories. Not only was homophobia rampant, but everything that everyone said or did carried somewhat homo-erotic undertones. To quote him, “You couldn’t leave your notebook alone for two minutes without someone drawing penises all over it.” Have any good studies been done on whether such a situation actually promotes both homosexuality and homophobia?

  5. Brachychiton says

    so I expect they’ll correct my misunderstanding and explain that their compatriots are all fussy little schoolmarms who faint at the slightest whiff of ribaldry.

    What can I say? It’s in Queensland, our equivalent of the Deep South. (Being the antipodes, it’s the Deep North.) It’s where Ken Ham came from, remember. Tas Walker’s there, as is that Heywood crackpot.

  6. says

    We had the same thing at my high school when they went through the whole school dance thing, pretty typical here. Australia is very homophobic as a rule.

    To quote a friend of mine “I must have blown half the guys at Scotch”. Scotch is one of the most expensive la-di-da boys schools in the country. Wish I’d known they were that easy ^_^

  7. says

    My school also- so I assume other schools do, too- takes pregnant students down to the office and “asks that they leave.”

    Let me make sure I have this right:

    * Abortion, bad.
    * Contraceptives, bad.
    * Sex education, bad.
    * Forcing people to leave a school – presumably to a school with lower educational standards (otherwise, why would they be in a private school?) – and have a child, thus reducing their chances in life, good, moral and right?

    I knew there was something about religious “morality” that was seriously screwed (pardon the pun)

  8. HP says

    One of my acquaintances, who loved good music, stopped listening to Elton John when she found out he was gay.

    As someone who loves good music myself, I can think of dozens of other reasons to stop listening to Elton John.

  9. Bill Dauphin says

    Who knew that there were not one, but two members of the Philosophy Department of the University of Woolloomooloo commenting here?

    Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
    Who was very rarely stable.

    Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
    Who could think you under the table.

    David Hume could out-consume
    Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

    And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
    Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

    There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya’
    ‘Bout the raising of the wrist.
    Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed.

    John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
    On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.

    Plato, they say, could stick it away–
    Half a crate of whisky every day.

    Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle.
    Hobbes was fond of his dram,

    And René Descartes was a drunken fart.
    ‘I drink, therefore I am.’

    Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed,
    A lovely little thinker,
    But a bugger when he’s pissed.

  10. says

    One of my students went to a “Bible college”. The dorms were strictly sex-segregated and the boys and girls saw each only in classes. He said the boys’ dorms engaged in such wholesome activities as nude pizza parties and nude basketball. Of course, there was nothing gay about it.

  11. j.t.delaney says

    I went to a public high school in the Twin Cities (Tartan High School), and same-sex couples at dances such as prom were explicitly forbidden, and the administration made no secret about this policy. It wasn’t clear why they did this, but those were the rules, all the same.

    This was almost 15 years ago, and I have no idea if they still do this (my guess is yes.) Looking back, the kind of social repression was pretty stunning, and for the the small handful of openly gay students (out of a student body of +1,800), not being able to bring a date to the prom was the least of their worries. Vandalism of their car, threatening anonymous phone calls at home in the middle of the night, not to mention getting the living shit beat out of them, etc. was a whole lot more tangible, and happened from time to time. There were far more overt skinheads in attendance than openly gay kids. A friend of mine tried to start a GLBT student club… that didn’t last long.

    It wasn’t in some remote school district in the boondocks, or some private boarding school… it was an run-of-the-mill American public school in a working-class, inner-ring suburb of a major metropolitan area. This wasn’t “prissy” behavior; it was pure thuggery.

    My guess is that this is not such a remarkable story. I guess I’ve been far too desensitized by my upbringing, that I just don’t understand why a story about who is allowed to go to school dances is worth even mentioning.

  12. Bill Dauphin says

    …not one, but two…

    So, of course, several additional Bruces showed up while I was composing that response!

  13. says

    Hey, don’t tar us all with that brush! Aussies are not particularly homophobic – our government is pretty actively pro-gay rights. That school, just up the road from my house, is a hotbed of old-fashioned “upright” thinking, but not typical. Think of Australia as Canada without all the snow.

  14. says

    I also went to a school run by born-again christians (because they need two goes to get it almost-right) and the homophobia there was amazing. One of my acquaintances, who loved good music, stopped listening to Elton John when she found out he was gay.

    Posted by: wazza | April 15, 2008 10:03 AM

    Ironically, I also dropped Elton John right around his “coming out of the closet thing.” Only it was because I outgrew his massively over-exposed Top-40 music, finding it to be predominantly shallow pre-teen/early-teen pop. I can also put David Bowie, Queen and virtually all of Disco in there at the same time.

    And I used to pray that a bullet would find Barry Manilow! (I worked a retail job that had a Top-40 feed. Oh, the humanity!!!)

    A couple of years later, most of heavy metal went the same way — boring, stereo-typical and derivative of each other. And I really don’t think Blacksabbath and Led Zepplin were gay-boy bands.

    As for Sir Elton John, I still listen to Rocket Man. But the rest his work… Blech. I’d rather have a sugar enema.

  15. Peter Ashby says

    The school our kids went to, State co-ed, comprehensive (in the UK sense) but in a high decile area and the best in the general area on many measures has a mother and baby unit. Which means young Mums get to go to school while junior is cared for onsite facilitating things like breast feeding but where they also get advice and help. So you see girls in school uniform pushing prams up to the school. Only a few though i wouldn’t want you think this was common and I understand that some transfer from other local schools to this unit.

    I note from the comments on the original article that it is illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality in Queensland and the Equality commisioner is empowered to take action without litigation and this may not be the last of it.

  16. wazza says

    Why? was the coffee enema too bitter?

    Perhaps I should have clarified that her idea of good music was something like Elton John, but not actually that filthy pervert who goes against God’s Will

  17. Ian Gould says

    What Rob said.

    I’m not going to try to defend the indefensible here – I’ll just point out how far out of kilter with the Australian mainstream this school is.

    It’s even unenlightened by Queensland standards, well SEQ standards. (South East Queensland is that bit of the state where most of us live – in recurrent embarrassment at actions of the rest of the state.)

  18. JM says

    “brash and outspoken are more common stereotypes”

    Ahh c’mon. Some of us are quite polite really.

    No, I suspect this might have something to do with the gay/not-gay, women priests thing that is convulsing the Anglican church these days.

    I’d be very surprised if a 17 year old would come out in the type of environment prevailing in some of these schools, so I suspect the decision is more totemic than anything.

  19. Richard Harris says

    Sounds like some of you guys (& gals?) are just about ready for Beethoven. (And other composers, too, of course.)

    Start with the symphonies, (because they’re fairly easy to ‘get’), then in a few years, you can move on to the sublimity of the string quartets, especially the late ones. There’s plenty of other music, such as concertos, overtures, duos, trios, piano sonatas, to fill in until you’re ready for the ultimate in the sublime.

  20. says

    Aussie culture tends to be less prudish – quite a lot less, actually – than US culture. In particular, we are much more accepting of nudity. But there’s plenty of homophobia around. I’ve copped quite a lot of it over the years myself without even being gay or having any stereotypical gay mannerisms etc. – lots of Aussie men will (1) impute homosexuality to any guy who isn’t blatantly macho or sporty, and (2) of course, think this is a bad thing.

  21. says

    Why does this not surprise me:

    However, Churchie is not alone in its stand against same-sex couples attending school formals, with Queensland Catholic Education Executive Director Mike Byrne saying their schools would not allow it either.

    So the schools involved are anglican and catholic. Fairly typical rubbish from these guys:

    Mr Byrne said Catholic schools were committed to modelling behaviours in keeping with the values and principles of a Catholic institution

    Presumably, then, the overriding “values and principles ofa catholic institution” is bigotry. Nice to see that constantly confirmed and reinforced.

    I do wonder though; I wonder if they’d be allowed to continue operating if they discriminated against “mixed-race” couples in the same way.

  22. Steve LaBonne says

    In Catholic schools I presume the rules are pretty much the same as in ancient Greece- the only acceptable same-sex relationships are those between adult males (in the Catholic case they have to be priests, of course)and boys.

  23. Andrew says

    I have quite a number of mates who went to the school in question – some of them gay – and so I think I can clear Australia/Queensland/Brisbane’s name up a bit here.

    Queensland, and Australia in general, is certainly NOT more homophobic than most other places in the Western world. The fact is that the Anglican Church of Australia is a lot smaller and more conservative than American Episcopalians or British Anglicans (just look to Peter Jensen for proof), as such they tend to be stickers for heterosexual conformity, but they certainly do not represent the general mood in society here regarding sexual orientation. Also, note that the headmaster said that no formal application had been made and if it was that he would forward it to the school council. This means he hasn’t banned it yet and I suspect that is so because Queensland law forbids discrimination on grounds of sexuality. So if the students in question want to take a male partner the school can’t really do anything about it.

    In conclusion, to defend the reputation of my country, my state, and my city, this is a hyped up media release about a handful of backward teachers who don’t understand the law or where public sympathies now rest. The only reason this story would ever have even made it to the newspapers or is because the writers know it will grate with the more liberal sensibilities of the wider Australian community.

  24. emily says

    Words meaning ‘gay’ remain the high school student’s insult of choice, as a recent UK study recently confirmed. I agree that not take your boo to the dance is hardly the key issue, world wide. I don’t know many gay people who ever came out in highschool.

  25. stogoe says

    Stuff the elitism, you wanker. Classical is no better or worse than other genres; the only quality it has that others lack is Oldness, and let me tell you, Oldness ain’t always a good thing.

    Give me some NOFX, Skanking Pickle, or Vandals over Rachmaninoff or Berlioz any day.

  26. wazza says

    Oh, another thing… a lot of girls in particular will take a female friend to a ball just because they enjoy it, even if they’d both freak out to be called gay. So the gender balance argument does have some basis.

  27. Peter Ashby says

    J.T. Delaney, the reason it is news is perhaps because it shouldn’t be that way, especially since it is apparently illegal in Queensland.

    As for Aus being homophobic, well that depends on which bit I suppose. I was chatted up by a male shop assistant there once, but that was downtown Sydney…

    If you ever get a chance to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert do so (it has Hugo Weaving in it, The Agent in The Matrix, and Elrond in LotR). One of the things that film does is contrast inner city Sydney attitudes to the outback. Great outfits and musical numbers too. Don’t invite your fundie friends though.

  28. Peter Ashby says

    Emily to be fair the ‘study’ on the use of ‘gay’ pejoritively was a bit of political correctness gone a bit bonkers coupled with a good old fashioned dose of elders not understanding the kids. The word is evolving, again. That is all.

  29. Dave Luckett says

    Oh, there’s homophobia still around, down here, but it is getting better, and there has been for twenty or more years a specific law on the books that makes it an offence to discriminate for any important purpose on the grounds of sexual preference (with the usual caveats).

    But look, these top CofE boarding schools are meant to provide a rite de passage, not an education. That’s why they’re called “grammar schools”, which is meaningless these days but is meant to hark back to places like Eton, which when they started out taught only Latin and Greek grammar. It’s a sort of label, and what it really means is something like “ten thousand bucks a year and up.”

    You don’t send your kids to these places to learn stuff (unless, as Hugh Lawrie’s character remarks in Blackadder Goes Forth, it’s how to take a hot toasted crumpet between the cheeks of the arse without blubbing). You send them there to make contacts and acquire entry to a social class.

    There would be no point sending them there, if the other necessary characteristics of that class were not acquired as well; and one of those characteristics is obsessive adherence to convention. It’s not that these schools, or the class they represent, could really give a monkey’s if their students were as bent as coathangers in any sense, up to and including the actually criminal. It’s whether they go public with it, for that sort of thing is Not Done.

    Turning up to the school dance with a same-sex partner would come into the category of Not Done, that’s all.

  30. Peter Ashby says

    Good points Dave Luckett, it is also the start of the academic year in the Southern Hemisphere, so this will be the first Formal of the year. Which means the informal inquiry would have been a ‘testing of the waters’. If it comes at all, expect the formal application to come for the final ball from a group of final year students. That is how you do these things.

    By going public with it now, they are simply backing the principal into a corner and making sure the world is watching. And we are ;-)

  31. Richard Harris says

    stogoe @ # 32, I agree with you, well, at least with the bit where you recognize that classical is the elite musical form.

  32. emily says

    Peter, I include under this banner the equally common faggot etc. I also don;t buy the argument that gay as a derogatory meaning something other than gay as a term referring to homosexuality. Used blithely rather than with active malice but hardly benign.

  33. sdej says

    In the spirit of the Bruces and the digression into classical music:

    They’re decomposing composers,
    There’s nothing much anyone can do,
    You can still hear Beethoven,
    But Beethoven cannot hear you.

  34. jayh says

    Give me some NOFX, Skanking Pickle, or Vandals over Rachmaninoff or Berlioz any day.

    Some day you’ll get it

    Rober Johson, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, James Cotton, Koko Taylor, Charlie Musselwhite…

  35. Peter Ashby says

    Or you can get some fusion, like Sting riffing on Prokofiev. All together now: if the Russians love their children too…

  36. Heather says

    I want to say that while there are instances of homophobia that make you sick, there are also signs that changes our coming.

    The high school where I teach has a very active, open GLBT club – actually, it’s called the Gay-Straight Alliance. There are quite a few members, both gay and straight, and every year they do the day of silence – and there are lots of them. We have several openly gay students (that I’m aware of, I don’t know all 2600 students!) who aren’t in the slightest bit afraid to show affection in the hallways, or to bring their date to the prom.

    I think a lot of it is generational. Many kids these days are growing up with a completely different perspective than some of the older folks.

  37. Bill Dauphin says

    …there are also signs that changes are coming.

    The high school where I teach has a very active, open GLBT club – actually, it’s called the Gay-Straight Alliance.

    My daughter, who is a graduating senior at a public high school here in Connecticut, tells me that the GSA at her school is so popular it’s almost annoyingly trendy. Of course, her best friend is a gay boy who’s taking her to prom instead of his boyfriend… but I think that has more to do with the fact that the boyfriend isn’t a student at their school than with any prohibition against same-sex dates.

    I’m sure that there are still pockets of homophobia and prejudice even at her school, but it seems clear to me the trends are all positive.

  38. M. Lee says

    re: a connection between homophobia and homosexuality, I can’t see why it’d be a surprise in religious schools, since they’re already taught to hate themselves from birth for being sinful creatures. So why not partake of a forbidden fruit yet again, since god forgives those who “truly” know the path *projectile vomiting ensues* Amazing how thin the line is . . . causes one to wonder if there’s no small amount of eros involved when the Westboro whackjobs print out those signs of theirs.

  39. bernarda says

    Richard Harris, for a long time I have tried to get people on blogs interested in composers like Beethoven, though I think Mozart might be a better start, so many of his songs are so beautiful. I do this when I see lists of music they are listening to. They are almost entirely pop music.

  40. Kseniya says

    That’s good to hear, Bill. My brother, who’s a junior in HS, has a good female friend who by appears to be bi. He’d love to date her, but she currently has a girlfriend. He’s cool with that. Her parents, unfortunately, aren’t completely accepting of the situation, and have at times limited her movements and social opportunities in ways that don’t even make sense in the context of trying to keep her from being alone with her GF. Sigh. Pockets…

  41. Kseniya says

    Bernarda: Mozart is easy on the ears, and in the best possible way. :-) The Germans tend to be pretty intense, though, and in a way that may not be completely welcoming to the neophyte. You might consider laying a little Fracophilia on them as an alternative or as a complement: Debussy, Ravel, Satie… there’s magic there.

    And then of course there’s Tchaikovsky, a melodist nonpareil… and who, besides Ravel, can match old Pyotr Ilyich’s vibrant and beautiful orchestrations?

    We’ll save the Bartok, Stravinsky and Schönberg for second semester… ;-)

  42. says

    Her parents, unfortunately, aren’t completely accepting of the situation, and have at times limited her movements and social opportunities in ways that don’t even make sense in the context of trying to keep her from being alone with her GF.

    Ya know, you’d think they might appreciate the fact that their daughter’s choice of love interest is most unlikely to lead to a teenage pregnancy. Some people seem incapable of finding a good side to anything….

  43. KiwiInOz says

    I was pretty disgruntled at my first reading of that story in our local tabloid “The Courier Mail”. However, some good points:

    It was a straight friend of several gay students who represented them to the Headmaster (i.e. not entrenched in homophobia).

    They haven’t yet resorted to quoting Leviticus (although it is obviously the underlying issue).

    The local bishop is “supportive” of gay students.

    The headmaster will consider the issue if approached formally.

    There is hope.

  44. Richard Harris says

    Bernada, I guess it all comes down to what sort of emotional experience one enjoys. I’ve always found Mozart to be reather anodyne. Beethoven is more ‘muscular’ – especially the symphonies. The string quartets, which lack the more bombastic instruments & the massed orchestral forces of course, have a subtlety that possibly requires advancing age to appreciate.

    Sorry if I sound dismissive of Mozart – obviously, many people rate his music highly, so I suspect that it’s better than I rate it. If I had to choose between losing all of Haydn’s, let alone Beethoven’s music, or Mozart’s music, I’d lose the Mozart.

    Is it possible that people are losing the ability to listen to & enjoy classical music, due to societal pressures? We have such busy lives, it’s difficult to find time to sit down & just listen to music for half an hour or more at a stretch. What I do now is listen on headphones while reading in bed (currently ‘Ancient Iraq’) before going to sleep. Usually at some point I put the book down & just listen.

  45. Bill Dauphin says


    My brother, who’s a junior in HS, has a good female friend who by appears to be bi. He’d love to date her, but she currently has a girlfriend. He’s cool with that.

    Wow… now you’ve got me imagining old-school trailers for a B-movie called High School Threesome!!

    But seriously, my daughter tells me a lot of her schoolmates claim to be bi, as well. I say “claim to be,” because she says that, too, is such a trendy thing that she thinks some percentage of the “bi” kids are just posers. Even so, the fact that such a formerly stigmatized orientation can be trendy enough to attract pretenders strikes me as a fundamentally positive sign. Imagine, by way of comparison, if being African-American were so totally cool that white kids with deep complexions were trying to “pass”!

    All this makes me wonder what the effect of reductions in, if not disappearance of, the social constraints against being gay or bi will be. As long as it’s been painful and socially damaging to be gay, it has seemed likely that teens who came out were expressing their deep-seated, undeniable sexual identity; if being gay or bi becomes “no big deal” or even a social positive, I wonder if we won’t see teens engaging in a variety of sexual experimentation that crosses gay/straight/bi boundaries, without necessarily committing to any lifelong sexual identity.

    Of course, you’re attracted to whatever you’re attracted to, irrespective of social norms… but I wonder if the easing of anti-gay prejudices mightn’t make it easier for teens — who are, after all, at a time of life when experimentation is natural — to “try something else,” just out of curiosity?

    I think the social norms of my daughter’s generation are going to end up being very different than those of my own; it’s going to be fascinating to watch.

  46. IAmMarauder says

    “I don’t usually think of Australians as particularly prudish — brash and outspoken are more common stereotypes”

    Well, being another Aussie I think you are right with the brash and outspoken stereotype to a degree, however some of those brash, outspoken types are very prudish as well.

    My insight is a bit different from some of the others here, I come from a “city” called Bathurst (city is in quotes because the population is about 35000, so not a city by US standards but it is by ours :P). We have one all boys Catholic college, one all girls and one co-ed. The big thing is a lot of the kids attending these schools are from small country towns, and a lot of them have an old way of thinking.

    I actually grew up near one of these small towns, and it was surprisingly backwards in its way of thinking. Homophobia was definitely there, but it wasn’t noticeable as there were no same-sex couples to bring it out. But this also meant that it wasn’t around to confront them either, so there was no reason to change their minds about it.

    The local University is different however, and I think that is mainly because quite a few of its students come from Sydney to study. There is a Gay and Lesbian group, and they don’t suffer from much in the way of harassment. Some people don’t like it, but they accept it.

    Finally you have the people outside of the schools, and honestly there is no homophobia here for the most part. However when you break society into social groups you find homophobia very noticeable in the extreme “upper” and “lower” class groups. However both groups suffer in that they also think in “old school” ways – but this is more that they are fairly insulated groups more than anything (and there are exceptions in both groups, which is a good thing). But it is more that they are afraid of thinking differently to their peers then any religious reason, although they may hold religion up as the excuse for their thinking.

    Anyways, this is just a slice of what I have observed here, and may not reflect on Australia as whole :)

    As for homophobia / homosexuality connection: I am surprised that one thing has not been said yet. One thing most of these schools pride themselves on is their Rugby Union teams. A group of guys running around trying to hug each other, and then getting together to stick their heads between the bums of two other lads. Then the inevitable group shower. Yes sir, no homo-erotic undertones there :P

  47. fcaccin says

    They’re decomposing composers,
    There’s nothing much anyone can do,
    You can still hear Beethoven,
    But Beethoven cannot hear you

    Beethoven stopped hearing people a bit before decomposition.
    Anyone who likes Vivaldi?

  48. says

    These are all boys schools, and as everyone knows, there is never any homosexual activity among randy young teenagers cooped up in a school in which no members of the opposite sex are ever allowed to be present.

    Don’t feed the fangirls, kthx.

  49. Neil Schipper says

    I’m enjoying the musical side-chat…

    To the classicists: I have times where I feel like I “get it”, but in the end, I can’t help being annoyed about the essence of the very form: a genius sits alone at his piano, comes up with a cool phrase, scribbles down his black dots, comes with another awesome phrase, scribbles some more, etc., with the output later to be performed by very highly skilled “typists”. And I want to know if you know what it’s like, to leave aside notions of ornate, complex themes, to embrace relatively simple and repetitive themes, and to be thrilled by people sort of melting together “in the moment”, building on each other, forging a deep emotional groove, each player contributing his layer with enormous concentrated conviction and total understanding of his role (the layer he owns), every player respectful of the intent of the song, able — nay, desparate — to let it breathe, creating a foundation for a foreground voice to lift off to heaven?

    And to everyone else: has anyone, even for a moment, visited a psychological place where you think that the real reason for the existence of Beethoven & Bach & Chopin, Django & Evans & Bird, Johnson & Muddy & Howlin’, McCartney & Wonder & Hendrix & Dylan, was in order to pave a road for the emergence of the Robert Cray Band, almost as if, as if, things were designed?

  50. Geoff says

    A gay couple and a lesbian couple can just take each others’ partners to the formal.

    They don’t say who can dance with who though right?

  51. Kseniya says

    Richard, I know you’re addressing Bernarda, but I can’t keep my nose (ears?) out of a music convo. :-)

    I think a relative indifference to Mozart isn’t a sufficiently heinous transgression to get you sent to the iGULAG. :-)

    As for me, I recognize the greatness of Beeth and do love some of his work (and I’m with you on the quartets – what better distillation of a composer’s essense than the quartets? see also Bartok, Debussy, Ravel) but typically, the Germans don’t touch my Slavic soul the way their collegues and competitors to the east have been able to.

    More to the point, Mozart wouldn’t be my first desert-island pick, either.


    Ya know, you’d think they might appreciate the fact that their daughter’s choice of love interest is most unlikely to lead to a teenage pregnancy. Some people seem incapable of finding a good side to anything….

    Yes, exactly!! I’ve said the same thing, especially in light of their refusal to let her attend the local AnimeCon, on the grounds that all the girls, say a half-dozen friends, were as in prior years planning to get a hotel room near the Hynes rather than go in and out of the city two or three times. The girl’s parents not only wouldn’t let her do the overnight thing (well, ok) but they wouldn’t let her go to the con – AT ALL. What the heck?!

    Bill D: Yes to everything! (p.s. – Google “Mez Mezzrow”.)

  52. RamblinDude says

    And to everyone else: has anyone, even for a moment, visited a psychological place where you think that the real reason for the existence of Beethoven & Bach & Chopin, Django & Evans & Bird, Johnson & Muddy & Howlin’, McCartney & Wonder & Hendrix & Dylan, was in order to pave a road for the emergence of the Robert Cray Band, almost as if, as if, things were designed?

    Robert Cray?

    Did Mozart reveal to us the magnificence of the 40th and 41st symphonies in anticipation of the Robert Cray Band?

    Did Schubert compose the other worldly 15th quartet, did Brahms pour himself into the exquisite angst of his Op. 51. No. 1, did Tchaikovsky give us the vibrant colors of his violin concerto to pave the way for Robert Cray?

    Hmph, I think not.

    If your eyes and ears were open to the truth you would realize that all musical endeavors led up to and ended with…METALLICA!!! MASTER OF PUPPETS! FOREVER!!! Woohoooo!!

    Thrash metal lives!!

  53. Kseniya says

    Oh, FWIW, my godbrother, who is now 21 and openly gay, gradually came out during high school. His first committed relationship was with a girl. She was (and still is) a close friend of his who happened to be my next-door neighbor. After dating her for a few months he started saying, “I think I might be bi.” Looking back on it, I’m sure he was transitioning from a modeled, assumed default heterosexuality (virtually all the adult males in his life were straight) to his natural orientation. The “poseur” effect is real, yeah, and that’s fine – teens try on all sorts of identities – but for some the “bi” identity is a necessary way-station between expectation and realization.

  54. Knight of L-sama says

    [quote]it is also the start of the academic year in the Southern Hemisphere,[/quote]

    Peter Ashby (#38) what are you talking about? The academic year (at least in Queensland) starts in late February. For High School students the first of four terms has already been and gone.
    Also speaking from public experience organisation for these events take a couple of months so the formal probably isn’t going to be until some time in June or later and June to August is the normal time for formals in Queensland.
    Also I went to an Christian Brothers school in Queensland and we all had to be bring a female date, though there was no mention of bringing a male partner one way or another. It was more or less to stop some of us from going stag (bringing no date at all which doesn’t work at an all boys school, at least in terms of keeping numbers equal)

    I specify Christian Brothers school as well because unlike other Catholic schools they have their own organisational leadership structure which (to the best of my knowledge) bypasses Catholic Education Queensland.

  55. Kseniya says

    And I want to know if you know what it’s like…

    Hell yes! I do. As listener, dancer, and even as a player. :-D

    There’s room for all this beauty, ladies and gentlemen… be it useless, or otherwise…

    I must object to one thing, however – a gifted musical interpreter, regardless of genre, is no mere “typist”. That’s a grave insult to some of the greatest musicians in history. (Please note: I am not personally insulted in the least. I understand where you’re coming from – you’re just wrong by virtue of inexperience, a shortcoming so benign it needs no forgiving.)

    Re: Robert Cray. Oh c’mon, everyone knows there’s no “pinnacle” of evolution. ;-)

  56. kel says

    Thankfully, there are signs of the times changing – this is from the second linked article:

    “However, Scotch College in Adelaide said it had no restrictions on students who want to take same-sex partners to college events and they support openly gay students.

    Deputy principal Craig Rogers said the school promotes student freedoms and the students themselves are very supportive of same sex couples.

    “We’ve had students who are openly gay and it hasn’t had an effect on their happiness in the school,” he said

    “It’s a non-issue to be honest.””

    And also, the head of the Anglican Church is ok with same-sex partners at school formals –

    In conclusion – us Aussies seem to be a lot less prudish than a lot of other places I can think of. Nice to live in a time and place when gay high school students feel comfortable enough to come out.

  57. Bill Dauphin says


    Dirty old man. ;)

    You say that like it’s a bad thing! ;^)


    Thanks for the Google-hint! The “first white Negro” and “the Johnny Appleseed of weed,” eh? Looks like I’m going to have to read Really the Blues.

    I can see where bi would be a way-station for some, a temporary playspace for others, and a permanent state of being for yet others. I just today listened to a This American Life story about a woman who was at odds with her born-again Christian brother because (among other things) she was living with another woman. At the end, Ira Glass gave his little “since we first aired this story” rap, and it turned out that she’s now married to a man (a rabbi, no less!) and has three kids. I wonder how common this sort of Anne Heche/Kissing Jessica Stein narrative is?

    It’s always seemed to me (albeit admittedly without any evidence) that women are freer to be fluid in their sexual identity, perhaps because in our culture intimacy between women has generally been less stigmatized than intimacy between men.

    BTW: “godbrother”? That’s a new one on me. Is it a Ukrainian (I hope I remembered that right) cultural thing?

  58. Sven DiMilo says

    “There ain’t but two kinds of music in this world. Good music and bad music.”
    –Louis Armstrong
    Now, the really interesting thing is, I would disagree even with Satch about which is which. But any “music lover” that does not embrace pluralism to at least some degree is, to my mind, no music lover at all. Many (I can’t say “all”) genres of music are capable of allowing intense personal self-expression of emotion and intelligence. Many kinds of music can, in other words, function as art (all kinds can function as craft; in my view it’s only the stuff with really low levels of both art and craft content that qualify as “bad.”). If you are so tied to (say) German composers of the Common Practice Period that you can’t hear what is good and true in bluegrass, bebop, folk, metal, Impressionism, blues, hiphop, ragtime, and damn near everything else, then I actually pity you–your experience of the joys to be had from music in this too-short life is sadly limited.
    I’m not going to list my personal favorite artists and composers (though I will admit to a strong taste for improvisation), but my point is that genres are limiting in a bad way. There are certifiable geniuses and true artists in many genres, and to argue about who’s better, Mozart or Beethoven or Coltrane or Dylan or Merle Haggard is beyond ridiculous.
    (oh, and Kseniya, be careful–you’re angling for another proposal)

  59. Kseniya says

    Da, ya Ukrainka-Amerikanka. :-)

    But no, it’s not a cultural thing – “godbrother” is simply a verbal shortcut to “my father’s godson.” :-)

    He’s more like a cousin, I guess. Our families are close. His dad is my dad’s best friend. His sister is my age, and a friend. We grew up in the same town and went to the same schools. She’s not my “godsister” though… there’s no godparent connection between her and me.

  60. says

    One point that seems to have slipped under the radar both on this blog and in Australia is the fact that whilst private schools such as this one receive substantial amounts of government funding they are explicitly exempt from many of the requirements of the anti-discrimination act. Religious schools may discriminate in the hiring of staff and selection of students but still get the bulk of their funding from the taxpayer.

    Having worked as an atheist in private Anglican schools (co-ed and all girls) the most extreme homophobia tended to be exhibited by a few members of staff. Some overtly gay students certainly had a rough time but fortunately more students these days are more accepting or a least accommodating of other’s preferences and lifestyle. I too am interested in the notion or a link between expressed homophobia and homoerotic behaviour. Then again I was never a great fan of rugby or team sports.

  61. Geoffrey says

    It varies. On one end, a gay friend of my wife’s came out to his father at sixteen and was told “Well, you know where the shotgun is”.

    At the other… another of her friends taught at a Catholic school in Sydney. The head knew he was gay, and when one of the students was struggling with coming-out issues he took the boy aside and told him “You’re not the only homosexual in the world – if you want to talk to somebody who’s been there, Mr. X is down the hall.”

    And one of my stepson’s friends, aged 16 or so, has recently come out as bi. So far, it doesn’t seem to be an issue, although that’s a selective government school; there are plenty of places where the response would be much different.

  62. Tom Goodfellow says

    I heard Peter Jensen (Anglican Bishop of Sydney) on local ABC radio and he came across as both thoroughly nasty and illogical. He argued that homosexuality is definitely “wrong” and that the school up in Queensland was right in his decision. He tried to wrap it up by stating that all sex outside marriage was wrong – the interviewer failed to ask how many of the straight schoolkids attending the prom are married.

  63. Kseniya says

    Sven speaks of:

    …the joys to be had from music in this too-short life…

    Yes…… Sigh. :-)

    Some of the harmonic thrills I get from Bartok, I also get from Linkin Park.


    Hey, Sven – ever hear any P.D.Q. Bach? :-)

  64. deang says

    re stereotypes of Australians, several American gay male friends of the circuit-party type long held a stereotype of Australia as a paradise of hypersexual, ultra-macho, gorgeous studs who appeared completely masculine but would hop into bed with any gender that caught their fancy. Kind of the parallel to straight American males’ fantasies about beautiful blond Australian women wearing bikinis on endless beaches. On finally visiting there, these guys were very disappointed (an understatement) to find that not only was their image of Australian men as randy and gay-friendly wrong, but that in most ways the society was about as homophobic as US society.

  65. says

    I’m an Aussie and I’m embarrassed — hopeful that these people form a small minority, but realistic that they form a far larger proportion of Australian society than my rosy-eyed worldview would allow.

  66. Lightnin says

    Damn Rob, you beat me to that point. In Australia, private schools get plenty of government funding, and it usually doesn’t matter how many swimming pools and football ovals they already havee, or if they are charging 20K tuition fees, they still receive millions.

    They argument made by the conservative coilition parties and now our liberal (i.e. less conservative) Labor party government is that it’s all about giving batteling families choice. Although I wouldn’t necessarily be too quick to judge someone who didn’t want to send their kids through an underfunded public school system (many schools I’ve been through had many classes in demountable buildings) I do object to millions in government funds being used to further discrimination/homophobia/creationism/religious fundementalism etc.

  67. Bill Dauphin says

    Kseniya, what’s your favorite? The “Unbegun” Symphony? Concerto for Horn and Hardart? Iphigenia in Brooklyn? I was always partial to My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth.

    I was privileged to attend, lo these many years ago in far-off Houston, an evening of the minimeister of Wein-am-Rhein’s works, as presented by Prof Schickele. I hadn’t thought about that stuff in years; thanks for reminding me.

    I recently bought a widget to hook up my dusty old turntable to my computer for purposes of digitizing my vinyl record collection. I think The Wurst of PDQ Bach just moved to the top of the pile.

  68. Mags says


    Hey, don’t tar us all with that brush! Aussies are not particularly homophobic – our government is pretty actively pro-gay rights

    Oh please, After Rudd’s comments during last year’s election on gay rights, he is as conservative as Howard on the issue. The only difference is the Labor party have a thorn aka Bob Brown in their side because they needed the Greens votes to get in. I don’t see Rudd as having gone along with these proposed changes to the legal system and financial system on his own. And need I remind you, he wouldn’t even answer Rove’s “Who would you turn gay for”.

    Think of Australia as Canada without all the snow.

    And instead of slaughtering defenseless seals, we slaughter defenseless kangaroos.


    It’s even unenlightened by Queensland standards, well SEQ standards. (South East Queensland is that bit of the state where most of us live – in recurrent embarrassment at actions of the rest of the state.)

    I have to agree there. Having just come out of the Queensland education system last year, I can say that I found the general view of homosexuality by students to be overwhelmingly positive. I’m gonna skip the ‘I have lots of gay friends’ speech, and say that I can recall little to no discrimination or prejudice towards gay students at all. The metro sexual and emo sub-cultures have had a vast influence and I believe are a part of the forward thinking expressed here today.

  69. Brucetta says

    Ah, I knew before I clicked the link that it would be Churchie.
    A (gay) relative was a student there; I’m not sure that he’d want his (rather awful) experiences there to be in the public domain (even anonymously), so I shall refrain.
    But suffice it to say that I do not have a good opinion of the place.

  70. tonyk says

    The Anglican Church here in Australia does have areas that are homophobic. For instance the head of the Sydney diocese (Phillip Jensen) is well known for his anti-homosexual stance. Recently there was a bit of a furore over his comments saying that Justice Michael Kirby, who is a highly respected judge in the High Court of Australia (equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court), is not a good Anglican as he is unrepentantly gay, and has been ‘out’ for many years.

  71. Peter Ashby says

    Neil Schipper @#59 you need to get into some Gregorian chanting. I am as hardcore an atheist as anyone but that stuff is just magic: a group of guys with their own layers seeking to meld together in search of the transcendent. You don’t need to believe the transcendent is supernatural to appreciate it. It is also wonderful stuff for concentrating to.

    As for classical music with exceptions I end at Mozart and Bach etc. I seriously dig harpsichords and deplore the introduction of the piano. Exceptions are Pyotr Ilyich of course (his grave in St. Petersburg is just wonderful and was *covered* in flowers when we were there in ’94), Sibelius, Mussorgsky’s NIght on Bald Mountain and as a good European I think our ‘anthem’ is a truly wonderful piece of music.

    I pick music up again when the Blues start and go from there, but I don’t get into early Rock’n’Roll until Psychedelia comes along and I will always regret was way too young to see the early Floyd.

  72. Wobert says


    That’s how we regard Yanks.Starting from about the time Dugout Doug turned up.(snicker giggle)

  73. Peter Ashby says

    Well from New Zealand we always reckoned that Aussies were just wannabe Yanks and that is putting it politely!

  74. says

    As someone who’s made a living for years in opera and orchestras, and also plays in swing, rockabilly, jazz, pop and postclassical groups, I think the guy who said performers are just “typists” has got it completely wrong. Playing a highly structured, worked out piece can be incredibly creative and ecstatic, as much as jamming in your own layer. Just like Steve Reich said.

    My favourite music is the huge ocean of Carnatic music, especially Subbalakshmi.

    Also, “classical music” is actually about a zillion styles spanning centuries – it’s rather misleading to lump it all together.

  75. Sven DiMilo says

    ever hear any P.D.Q. Bach?

    Yeah, I too have a vinyl copy of the Wurst of someplace. Might just have to dig that out…

  76. RamblinDude says

    you need to get into some Gregorian chanting. I am as hardcore an atheist as anyone but that stuff is just magic:

    Ever been in a steam room and find yourself vocalizing long, low reverberating hums like a monk?

    I heard an interesting report on how acoustics in performance venues have changed over the years–from castles and cathedrals to modern auditoriums–leading to changes in music composition over the centuries. Mozart and company could begin to speed things up and add delicate intricacies without the information sounding garbled because they had different acoustic properties to work with. The reason it helps to hear genres like Gregorian chanting performed in the settings they were designed for.

    Also, “classical music” is actually about a zillion styles spanning centuries – it’s rather misleading to lump it all together.

    Exactly! And it’s this, I think, that so many people don’t understand. I love classical music, but I don’t like everything I hear on the classical station by a long shot. There’s a reason movies use classical pieces in their soundtracks. It’s too bad that that’s about the only place many people will hear them.

  77. Heather says

    Well, I spoke too soon…at yesterday’s faculty meeting the day of silence was discussed. One teacher had an issue with it, feeling that it was disruptive and that she was being disrespected as a math teacher. She said she has kids asking her what gay means, and then she has to call home to tell parents that they need to talk to their kids about it. Ummm…this is high school. Most kids of this age already know what gay means, and you don’t have to discuss it with them if you don’t wish. Another teacher had a problem with parents not being informed of the event beforehand. Although I think the kids who are participating probably have already come out to their parents, so who needs to be informed?

  78. Neil Schipper says

    To various folks who responded to my #59:

    I understand the possibility of getting a buzz playing intricate things worked out in advance — I’ve experienced it — but the buzz is more for the performer than for the hungry listener (not to say that people at a symphony or revved up to dance at a wedding don’t want a buzz, but in these cases, it’s the buzz of the familiar they’re after, not one of the surprising).

    I also accept than in many classical styles, there’s room, esp. for soloists, to spontaneously play around with phrases in subtle ways (and apparently, to a discerning ear, this is what distinguishes good from great). Though I’m not a sophisticated listener, I can get this in some solo piano, almost never in big-ass symphonic (which has lot of the same elements that turn me off from hard rock and art-rock, very much including, I have to say, the likes of Pink Floyd.

    Classical music (musics?) frequently seems to carry a sniff of obeisance — to a god or a king or to a notion of romantic love that’s out of step with my sensibilities. It feels like they’re playing at the audience; there’s a psychological barrier there. It’s not *just* about the audience politely sitting still (which is a very novel idea in the long history of human noisemaking); even at a modern pop concert with high production values (say, C. Aguilera or Celine Dion), the audience, no matter that they’re up on their feet, is placed at a distance created by performer sheen and polish. Somehow this is considered to be quality. It’s a turn-off.

    Someone commented about music in the movies; it reminds me how often when watching movies I think “they are pushing my emotional buttons with enormous intelligence and skill; fuck them”.

    I want to hear people believably visiting emotional places, whether despondent or ecstatic, on the verge of (and sometimes in actuality) making mistakes. Hard to explain.

  79. Bill Dauphin says

    Neil (@91):

    You use the word buzz a couple times early in your post, and the word that sprung to my mind was buzzkill. You seem to be working awfully hard to justify not liking stuff.

    It’s pointless. If something’s not to your taste, that’s cool: Nobody likes everything, and nothing is liked by everyone. But there is no form or style of music — from the rawest tribal yawp to the most remorselessly precise and mathematical fugue — that is incapable of greatness.

    Each instance of music exists as an implicit collaboration between creator, performer, and experiencer (understanding that those roles often overlap); who’s doing the “heavy lifting” may vary from piece to piece or form to form, but the potential for greatness is always there.

    Most of the time when we listen to music we like, it’s just fun; only rarely does the experience rise to greatness (and this is similarly true, IMHO, of all the arts). But “just” fun is no trivial good: In the words of that great philosopher Sheryl Crow, “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”… and if it doesn’t make you happy, just ignore it. There’s no need to spend any effort convincing the rest of the world that it shouldn’t make us happy either.

    In Googling PDQ Bach links, I was reminded of Peter Schickele’s old public radio show, Schickele Mix, which sadly is no longer available (not even as archived podcasts, damn the overrestrictive copyright laws!). Schickele mixed classical music with other forms, ranging across supposed artistic boundaries in search of common themes, motifs, techniques…. It was great fun, and a total antidote to the notion that classical music is inherently clinical and soulless.

  80. Kseniya says

    Hard to explain.

    Apparently not; you’ve explained it quite well. I know just what you’re getting at. I, too, value spontaneity, real (and sometimes raw) emotional expression, and risk-taking.

    But it seems I’m more accepting of a certain concept of performance – that is, in which a performer does not or cannot allow himself or herself the luxury or indulgence of actually experiencing the emotions they are required to evoke. Still, while there’s a big gap between Karen O and Sarah Brightman, it may not, perhaps, be quite as big as you think.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “play around” – improvise? No. Interpret? Yes… Dynamics, phrasing, tone, nuance… it’s about making it real, even if they didn’t write the notes.

    (Hey, be honest now – how many “improvised” blues licks have you heard in the past 2 years that you haven’t heard at least 100 times before in the past 10? Relatively few, right? So what is it that makes a blues performance great even though the performer is working completely within a well-established and commonly utilized and understood musical vocabulary? It ain’t necessarily the notes themselves, right?)

    Consider the parallel with acting. Two emotionally raw performance by actress I admire are by Jessica Lange in Frances and Naomi Watts in 21 Grams. Neither woman wrote the screenplays nor improvised the dialogue during the most emotionally wrenching moments of those films – so why do they work? Why do they work far better than hypothetical readings of the same lines by, say, Jessica Simpson or J-Lo? Because Lange and Watts are “skilled readers?” Perhaps… :-)

    Glossy-production pop shows are another thing altogether, IMO, particularly when parts of the performance… aren’t. ‘Nuff said, eh?

    As for the “wall” between orchestra and audience at Symphony Hall, try to stop thinking of that sort of concert as any way similar to an improvisational musical experience (which is, as we all agree, by nature quite different in many respects anyway.) Try, instead, to put a “classical” performance in another category altogether, and let it wash over you as you would a play, or a movie.

    “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”

    Indeed! Though I have to add, some music that makes me ostensibly miserable actually makes me very happy… ;-)

  81. Kseniya says


    Re: PDQ Bach. I haven’t heard much at all in the past several years. I grew up hearing my dad’s old beat-up tapes of The Wurst Of, and another one I can’t remember the name of, made from someone else’s vinyl some 30-35 years ago, tapes that has since disappeared. I remember them well, though. The pieces you mentioned are all fantastic! My dad had to explain the “Horn and Hardart” joke (he grew up in CT and knew H&H from trips to Manhattan) but it’s hilarious anyway. The faux-sportscast take on Beeth5 evokes another PDQ composition, which I believe is called “Concerto for Piano vs. Orchestra” – LOL!

    I’ve had the pleasure of performing these madrigals and carols a cappella:

  82. – “Good King Kong Looked Down”
  83. – “Oh, Little Town of Hackensack”
  84. – “Throw The Yule Log On Uncle John”
  85. – “My Bonnie Lass, She Smelleth”
  86. – “The Queen To Me A Royal Pain Doth Give”

    …and best of all, the grand oratorio “The Seasonings” – twice! One time I was in the chorus; the other, I played windbreaker and slide windbreaker with the orchestra. :-D

    That one’s great fun for Handel fans, for sure. :-)

    (My HS music director was awesome. And he had good taste: we also got to sing Debussy’s “Trois Chansons” with the original medieval French lyric of Charles d’Orléans. Beautiful stuff.)

    The Unbegun was brilliant, yeah. Have you heard the “Howdy” Symphony? It’s like the “Goodbye”, ‘cept… backwards. All the musicians arrive late. LOL.

    Another brilliant exercise in plagiarism was “Eine Kleine Nichtmusik”… LMAO. Must be heard to be believed.

    A few years ago, around xmastime, Schickle was on “A Prairie Home Companion.” You’ve got to hunt down a copy of this if you can: Keillor pitted Schickle and another composer against each other in a “compose-off”. Each had to compose a piece, while the show was going on, to be performed at the end of the show. The kicker was that each composer got to dictate which instruments the other composer could use. Needless to say, not all the instruments named were… ah… conventional. :-)

  87. Neil Schipper says

    Bill & Kseniya,

    All fair (and intelligent) comment.

    One thing I completely understand, and I say this all the time to friends, is that I’ve become musically more narrow-minded in the last ten or so years. My monologues are less about trying to win converts (though that would provide some gratification.. I’m listening to “Two Steps From The End” off of “Twenty” right now) than serving as a public appeal to see if I’m the only one with my particular disease (or enlightenment).

    As for blues and the limitations on the number of licks you’re ever gonna hear: yes, yes, yes! And more than that, I always tell people, that, not only are there dozens (actually, maybe thousands) of players that are faster, cleaner, and “trickier” than my deity, these other, what I would have to call lesser, players are more than that: they’re melodically more inventive, ya know, use of modal playing, chromatic-y runs and stuff. Don’t care. I know who I want to listen to, like 20 times in a row.

  88. Neil Schipper says

    Re: performances by actresses. Never seen either of yours, but Kathy Bates in Dolores Claiborne (sp?) has had a long lasting effect (and I’m no Steven King fan.. couldn’t believe he was the writer when the credits rolled by).

    And well, Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched.. what can one say?

  89. Kseniya says

    King is underrated. A couple of my fave movies are King stories, Claiborne included. Speaking of which, there’s another fine performance in that movie, by Jennifer Jason Leigh. She’s usually very good. She doesn’t stay in the box…

    I hear ya Neil, re: all musical issues. It comes down to what you like. Appreciation can increase with exposure to, and education about, less-familiar genres, but ultimately the stuff we love is the stuff that touches us – and whatever that might be can change with time, too. It’s part of the fun. :-)

    Anyway, I’m also with you on feel vs. flash. I appreciate technique, but my favorite guitarists are the stylists, the sound-and-feel guys, not the shredders. My favorite players this month are Knopfler and John Mayer. Mayer’s got it goin’ on… he’s all about tone and touch, melody, and serving the song, and he’s coming from a blues p.o.v. No wonder Clapton likes him, eh? And Knopfler, whew… sometimes he wrings more emotion out of one, clean note…

    As for Elizabeth Montgomery… err… a little before my time. :-)

    (This isn’t one of those Ginger / Maryanne things, is it?)

  90. says

    I don’t claim to have a sophisticated enough guitar “palate” to make pronouncements, but I know what I like. And…

    And Knopfler, whew… sometimes he wrings more emotion out of one, clean note…

    that’s what I like. I had a (probably bootleg) cassette tape of Brothers in Arms that I bought in Korea; it was the only cassette I ever owned that I literally wore out (I melted a few on the car dashboard, but that’s a different deal). The title track is pure heaven.

    On his Air America show, Al Franken used to use “Sultans of Swing” as a drop coming out of commercials, and he always made his producer wait until “that note” (you know the one) before fading it down.

    Re Schickele on PHC, could this be the show you’re referring to? It seems that Prof. Schickele’s opponent in the compose-off was not Keillor himself, but Bill McLaughlin. Schickele also appeared on the 2006 Christmas episode. (Teh intertoobz is wonderful, no?)

    (This isn’t one of those Ginger / Maryanne things, is it?)

    What “thing”? The answer is so obviously Mary Ann that the question isn’t even worth asking!! The real question is… Betty or Wilma?

    BTW, Google turns up the oddest things. I swear I was only trying to check the spelling of “Mary Ann” (honest, that’s all!); who knew I’d stumble across the Binary Babe Theorum [sic]?

  91. says


    Kseniya, you had it right all along:

    Keillor pitted Schickle and another composer against each other…

    I just misread your post the first time through. “I hate when ‘at happens!”

  92. wobert says

    #86 But Peter, by the number of Kiwis over here we were under the impression that the vast majority are wannabe Aussies.

    Enough of the Trans Tasman rivalries,(never actually did much for me anyway)Perth is further from me than New Zealand.Queensland is the real point and laugh home of the stupid in this neck of the woods.The national media has responded and basically dropped a big pile of pooh on the school/church involved in the PZ post.Next, hopefully, someone with clout will dump all over their enviromental laws.

  93. Kseniya says

    Oh, Bill… “Brothers In Arms” has one of those moments… specifically, the first phrase of the solo that immediately follows the bridge (the “we have just one world” section), an ascending arpeggio culminating in a bend up to the tonic, which he lets sing out for a moment before unbending it on his way back down to the flat-6 (which he holds over IVm and VI chords …)

    Uh, transcription details aside, it’s that bend, hold, unbend phrase that takes my breath away. It’s not technically difficult – heck, I can do it myself – but it somehow manages to be the most powerful and poignant moment in a powerful and poignant song. (“Ride Across The River” is another good one from that record. Love that spacey, wailing guitar.)

    The dude can write, too. There’s a song called “Heart Full of Holes” on his newest CD that just kills me. It’s not really a rock song and, though it’s anchored by the dobro, there’s effectively no guitar on it. It’s the damned lyric, and… well, who’d have guessed that a snare-drum roll and a cymbal crash, in a musical context best described as “German music hall”, could make me want to weep inconsolably for a man resigned to live in the long, long aftermath of unimaginable horror and loss. If you’ve ever read Edward Lewis Wallant’s The Pawnbroker (and I suspect Knopfler has) maybe you know what I mean… though Knopfler’s protagonist is surely kinder and gentler than Wallant’s.

    Are we off-topic yet? :-)

  94. Kseniya says

    Oops, I spelled “Schickele” wrong, though. Yes, the episode you linked to does seem to be the one with the “compose-off.” Fun!

    All I can say about the Binary Babe Hypothesis is… geez you boys can be shallow! ;-)

  95. Bill Dauphin says

    geez you boys can be shallow!

    Like I said to Rey, you say that like it’s a bad thing!

    However, I must insist that there’s a certain quixotic sophistication to my shallowness. I always did reserve my infantile leering for the “other” girl, instead of the obvious bombshell: Not only Mary Ann over Ginger and Janet over Chrissy, but also Janeane Garofalo’s character in The Truth About Cats and Dogs over Uma Thurman’s. And Kate Jackson was my favorite Charlie’s Angel. IMHO, interesting is always sexier than obviously sexy.

    BTW, that Binary Babe video made Gilligan’s Island look a whole lot racier than I remember it!

    Re “Brothers in Arms,” these days I can’t think of the song without remembering one of my favorite moments from The West Wing: Bartlet’s MS has just been publicly revealed, and he’s just finished cussing out God (in Latin, of course) over the senseless death of his beloved adminstrative assistant, and he walks into the White House press room, dripping wet, waiting to be asked whether he’s going to run again. “BiA” has been playing under the whole sequence leading up to this, and as Bartlet reaches the podium and looks out at the press, Leo (who is standing to the side) says to Toby, “watch this,” and the music swells to the foreground.

    IMHO, TWW was absolutely brilliant in its use of music to illuminate the drama, and this was one of the very best examples.

    Re being off topic, I think we’re the only ones still reading this thread; just think of it as slow-motion IMing! ;^)

  96. Kseniya says

    Bill, I guess I know where this affinity comes from…

    I think you and my dad would get along famously. He was born in the late 1950s, grew up in southwestern Connecticut; he’s a bright, good-natured and liberal-minded man who loves music (and especially Knopfler’s guitar playing, among many other thing) – and I happen to know that he had a huge crush on Kate Jackson when he was about 19 or 20. :-p

    Although I can’t claim to have much of an opinion about Kate Jackson one way or the other, I am very much my father’s daughter in many ways – we have similar temperments, outlooks, and interests; like him, I am musical, athletic, a bit of a dreamer, and taller than the rest of the family. LOL

  97. Ian Gould says

    “And instead of slaughtering defenseless seals, we slaughter defenseless kangaroos.”

    Yes but at least we eat them.

    Preferably pan-fried with a tomato/pepper sauce and pasta.

  98. Bill Dauphin says


    I think you and my dad would get along famously. He was born in the late 1950s,

    Since I was born in 1960, I guess that means I’m old enough to be your father! Shouldn’t surprise me… my own daughter is 17, and if my life had gone differently I could easily have a “child” 10 years older than that… but still, I could’ve gone all weekend without having that thought! ;^)

    Seriously, I can only humbly thank you for the comparison to a man you obviously respect and admire… [blush]

  99. Kseniya says

    Age means little in cyberspace… affinity means more…

    Beautiful day, short comment, but gotta go to work. :-(

  100. Kseniya says

    FWIW. My mom was born in 1960. I [unplanned] was born in ’84. My brothers were born in ’89 and ’91. So your daughter is the same age as my “youngest” – lol. Would she be interested in a cute, blue-eyed, curly-blond seventeen year old Bay State Boi who’s also a music lover and rock-climber who has a black-belt in karate and an IQ of 150?