Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Every Dog Has Its Day - A thousand things you didn’t know about man’s best friend - Exile Press 29.99
Why has Fido become a generic term for all dogs?
How did dogs help to roast a haunch of venison?
Why did hundreds of people collect dog faeces – and sell it?
Dogs never eat other dogs, so why is it a dog-eat-dog world?
Did any dogs survive the Titanic?
Do mad dogs really go out in the midday sun?
And exactly why are the ‘dog’s bollocks’ the best?
Max Cryer’s new book is a splendid collection of historical facts and eccentricities of language that will delight all dog-lovers and anyone with a morsel of interest in the world around them. Every Dog Has Its Day pays homage to man’s best friend, telling the stories of famous dogs in history, tracing the origins of some of our favourite breeds, showing how dogs have become a significant part of our language, and describing the amazing range of activities in which dogs are involved. Written with Max Cryer’s characteristic light touch and sense of humour, every page contains unexpected facts and fascinating stories: this book truly is a delight from beginning to end.
Mr Wiki tell us about Max: Cryer was educated in Vienna, Italy, and New Zealand, holds a Master's degree with Honours in Language and Literature. He has been Chairman of the Oxford Union debates and a judge of the Watties (Montana) Book Awards.
His professional career began onstage at Sadlers Wells Opera, London, following which he appeared in TV in Berlin and films in Rome. Then came an international career in cabaret, and a ten-year American contract with seventeen tours of the USA as an entertainer in San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas and Hollywood.
Cryer has been New Zealand's Entertainer of the Year, was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal for services to New Zealand, and became a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 1995 New Year Honours for services to entertainment.
He was New Zealand's first television quizmaster, host of twelve different television series and many specials, spoke the first words when New Zealand television was linked over the full nation for the first time, and was host of NZ's first live talk-variety show "Town Cryer."
His recordings include 15 long-playing albums and stage roles include Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady," the King in "The King and I," Count Danilo in "The Merry Widow" and Prince Orlovsky in "Die Fledermaus." From 1977 he produced over 300 TV shows for TVNZ, including Mastermind, International Mastermind, and University Challenge (New Zealand). Max is 6'6" tall, famously having had his photo taken in the 1970': standing at the entrance of the Farmers' Car Park building with his head touching the sign stating "Max Height 6'6" ".
In 1977 he received the Benny Award from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Inc.
He was seconded by the New Zealand Government to direct all New Zealand entertainment for the World Expo 1988 (Brisbane) and World Expo 1992 (Seville) where he organised and supervised 1000 Māori musical and cultural performances, and became repertoire co-ordinator for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's best-selling recording of Māori music.
Since 1997 his weekly radio session (now on Radio Live) has answered listeners' questions on the English language and his non-fiction books have been published in New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany and Russia.
Pros: When I read and find a sentence that really speaks to me or if I’m studying and hit an important section, I love to take note of it. I especially love to use color-coded Post-It flags that I can use to just flip back to a page when I need it. Being able to flip back and forth between sections is definitely easier with a paper book. Additionally, it’s nice to have a bookshelf filled with books that you can use to easily refer back to. Even if it’s just filled with books that you have the best intentions to read when you have time, bookshelves still have appeal and draw people in. While e-books tend to be cheaper, you can sell your books and textbooks back for cash, which is a huge plus!
Cons: Physical books, especially textbooks, can get heavy! I remember back in college, while I might have built some good arm muscles, it was still cumbersome to carry heavy textbooks around. Also, if you need a physical book, you either have to order it online or go to a bookstore. Waiting too long to get a book you need for a class can get you behind and in trouble. Additionally, if you have limited space and collect books, you can clutter up a room quickly.
Pros: Reading on a Kindle looks very similar to reading a book so I find that experience to be the same. However, Kindles are so portable and light! I never really noticed how bulky physical novels can get until I started using the Kindle. Unlike with a physical book, I’m still able to read while blow-drying my hair or eating because I don’t have to use my hand to hold down the pages to keep the book from closing. Secondly, e-books, since they’re cheaper to produce and distribute, tend to be less expensive to buy, which is always good. Sometimes libraries and Amazon even offer free e-books that can be decent reads. Finally, one of my favorite things about my Kindle is that people can’t tell what you’re reading. There are just some books that you want to keep to yourself (ahem, Fifty Shades of Grey). With a Kindle, you don’t need to worry about getting questionable looks while reading at your local coffee shop.
Cons: While you can take notes and highlight things within a Kindle book, it’s just not the same as having Post-Its sticking out of important sections. As I mentioned earlier, I love being able to color code things, especially for studying. While using a Kindle, I find myself having to take notes separately in a notebook rather than using the notes feature on the Kindle. Overall, maybe it’s my generation and the heavy use of technology, but after trying the Kindle, I did find it hard to go back to physical books. Although, for studying, it is nice to have a physical book that you can just pull off your shelf to refer back to. I think both books still do have a place for now, at least for me.
What are your thoughts? Do you prefer physical books to Kindle and other electronic readers?
Friday, August 9, 2013
About Pixie WilliamsPixie Williams was a shooting star of New Zealand music – a clear, bright magical voice, a brief luminous career, a brilliant flash of light that lives on as a memory for some - both distant and familiar.
“No matter where you are, music will always have some meaning. When you have music in your heart, it stays with you. Music will always live on." Pixie Costello (nee Williams ), January 2010
The Early YearsPikiteora Maude Emily Gertrude Edith Williams was born 12 July 1928, in Mohaka near Gisborne in the Hawkes Bay. Taken from her mother when only a few months old to be raised by her beloved grandparents (my “mother” and “father”) her happy childhood years were spent with them and her love of music was born – singing around the piano most evenings and on the Marae from age three.
“Ours was known as the musical house where everyone gathered to sing or play the piano and guitar. It was a simple, but magical childhood – full of music and singing.”
With the death of her “father” in 1934 and “mother” in 1941 Pixie’s happy childhood years ended. She was 12 years old – and now under the care of her Uncle.
"Everything went downhill for me when “mother” died. Working on my Uncle’s farm, I’d get up at 4.30am with my two cousins to milk 32 cows before school, all by hand, then have to race back home to do the afternoon milking and other farm chores. To make it bearable we’d sing. ‘Blue Moon’ was a favourite – the cows loved it. They’d join in when we sung ‘Moooooon’. We’d always sing that word as long as we could so they could all join in”.
By age 14 relatives stepped in. Concerned at the way Pixie was being worked, they told her natural mother who came by one day and picked her up.
“Not much changed though, I still worked my butt off.”
By age 15 Williams moved to Napier where she got a job cleaning at the hospital, followed by a six month stint housekeeping at the Masonic Hotel.
“I met Gladys Moncrieff there – a famous Australian soprano singer who was touring New Zealand. Her voice was incredible. She inspired me. I loved to sing – and wanted to do it right, so I got some lessons from the Sisters of Mercy.”
The Move to Wellington
At age 17, Williams moved to Wellington thanks to the same relatives who ‘rescued’ her at age 14.
“They got me a job working at a factory. I was so glad to leave, I never wanted to go back.”
Moving into the YWCA Hostel on Oriental Parade, her extraordinary voice came to the attention of songwriter and musician Ruru Karaitiana. At that time her talent was known only to the girls she shared lodgings with. Fellow resident and room-mate Joan Chittleburgh (whom Karaitiana later married) suggested Williams who was always singing in the shower and at hostel piano sessions. Blue Smoke was one of the songs in Williams’ repertoire.
Ruru Karaitiana's Blue Smoke launched Williams' career. It was a magical collaboration between artists that nearly didn't happen.
Williams twice turned down Karaitiana when he asked her to record his song. After one final plea, two months after first asking, she agreed - on the proviso that the recording didn't interfere with her Saturday hockey games.
About the Music
The Making of Blue SmokeBlue Smoke was written on the British troop ship Aquitania, off the coast of Africa in 1940. It was the first song Ruru Karaitiana composed. A jazz pianist from the Ngati Mutuahi hapu (sub-tribe) of Rangitane, Karaitiana toured locally before the outbreak of World War II.
More Williams/Karaitiana magicAfter the surprise success of Williams’ first effort, she recorded a second hit for Karaitiana ‘Let’s talk it over’ in 1949. An emotional and slow moving song about a relationship break up, it went on to sell 20,000 discs. Recorded with the Ruru Karaitiana Quintette (the same musicians as Blue Smoke) the melody is technically more difficult than Blue Smoke, which Williams’ voice handles with ease.
Two more Karaitiana songs were recorded in 1949. Ain’t it a Shame – a classic jazz number about lost love and regret and Windy City, a cultural classic about, where else, Wellington.
Samuel (Sam) Freedman (1911-2008)Enter another pioneer of New Zealand popular music, composer Samuel (Sam) Freedman.
Well known for his arrangements and writing English lyrics for Maori songs, as well as for his own compositions, Maoriland was recorded by Williams in 1949. A song about the beauty and magic of post war New Zealand, it was the first of Freedman’s songs to be recorded in a career lasting right through the 1960s with more than 300 compositions. On the B side Williams also recorded Freedman’s Christmas song ‘Best Wishes’.
Today, his best known song is Haere Mai (thanks to Air New Zealand advertising) written in 1952 possibly to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and her forthcoming 1953 tour of New Zealand.
Colin O'ConnellIn 1950 Williams was introduced to Colin O’Connell who wrote two songs for her. Recorded that same year Bell Bird Serenade is based on a folktale that when a courting couple hears the song of the Bell Bird they will marry and Sweetheart in Calico about memories of childhood love.
Karaitiana - 1950Karaitiana moved to Dunedin with his family in early 1950 to be near his wife’s family, originally touring with Dunedin promoter Joe Brown. He soon penned two songs for Williams to record. The first, a tribute to Dunedin’s landmark Saddle Hill and ‘It’s Just because’ written in honour of the troops of K-Force departing for the Korean War.
In 1951 Williams and Karaitiana reunited for concerts at Dunedin’s His Majesty’s Theatre, and in the same year Williams went into the studios of 4YA Radio Station to record Karaitiana’s new songs with narration by radio announcer ‘Doug Harris’. With his BBC radio voice, the inclusion of Harris's narration might possibly be considered the 1950's version of today's rap.
Two more gemsLittle is known of the composers responsible for two other songs made before Williams left Wellington. Recorded with Allan Shand and his Orchestra, but not released until 1951. Maori Rhythm, about a pakeha boy falling in love with a Maori girl and her tantalising sway, was composed by Dorothy M Vincent with lyrics by M E Purser. On the B side Williams recorded Sailing along on a moonbeam by composer ‘Rayling’ – a lovely melody that takes you on a journey across time to a slower pace where the world was full of promise.
Information about the original recordings is as complete as possible. Please contact Blue Smoke Records if you have additional information about the composers and/or artists involved – we’d love to hear from you.
Pixie today - 2011Pixie Williams couldn’t read music but taught herself to play guitar, ukulele, the banjo and piano accordion. At age 73 she decided to teach herself the organ - for something to do. After the death of her husband in 2006, Pixie left Dunedin 57 years after stopping in on her holiday for a week or two.
Today, at the age of 83 , she lives in Wellington and still loves to sing, whistle and hum her way through each day.
“Music – it’s what keeps you going through good times and bad. It kept me sane in the hard times. Forget the pills. When you’ve got music in your life – you’ll be ok.” Pixie WilliamsAnyone who knows Pixie, and her life, knows this to be true.