Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Max Cryer on the Beat Goes On

Every Dog Has Its Day - A thousand things you didn’t know about man’s best friend - Exile Press 29.99

This week our guest is the venerable Max Cryer - author, broadcaster and dog-bert.  Indeed, he's with us to talk about his new book: Every Dog Has Its Day - A thousand things you didn’t know about man’s best friend

AuthorMax Cryer
Our price:$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.[1]
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.[2]
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.

The Pros And Cons Of Reading On A Kindle Vs. A Physical Book

I’ve always loved reading. Even as a young child, I can remember immersing myself into a book on rainy days. The imagery of a good book could easily pull me in and make me feel like I was in the story. Additionally, I always loved the physicality of a book giving me the ability to dog-ear pages and highlight important sections. That being said, I was definitely hesitant to try out a Kindle or any electronic reading devices. However, once I gave it a try, I was sucked in and now love my Kindle. I still have love for physical books, but there’s no doubt that both options have their pros and cons. Here are the pros and cons of physical books and Kindle books that I have found throughout my experience: 

Physical Books: 

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. 

Kindle Books: 

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

RIP Pixie Williams

About Pixie Williams

Pixie 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 Years 

Pikiteora 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

Williams and her mates 1949, YWCA, 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 and the hockey team 1949
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 Smoke 

Blue 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.
A member of the 28th Maori Battalion Concert Party, it was sung in the desert between battles and became popular at troop concerts and at home long before it was recorded. Evoking the emotion and sadness of parting loved ones heading to war, the song appealed to post-war sentiments.
The recording was a true DIY production.  It was Dallas who hit on the idea of connecting the electric guitar direct to the recording equipment instead of using a microphone – a practice that became the way recording studios worked internationally.
Jim Carter who played the lap-steel guitar introduction to Blue Smoke, made his own five-watt amplifier, having gone to night school to learn radio technology.   With no sound-proofing and the sporadic hum of a fridge next door being clearly audible, New Zealand’s first commercial recording took nine days to capture.
Originally released in early 1949, Blue Smoke was arguably New Zealand’s first pop song – the first song wholly written, produced and recorded in New Zealand. It was also a huge hit topping the New Zealand chart for six weeks and selling 50,000 copies. It was played on radio stations and juke boxes around the world and covered by a host of international artists, including Dean Martin.
The B side of Blue Smoke featured another Karaitiana composition ‘Senorita’ – which drew a single review that it was “a gay, inconsequential trifle written by the same composer in Latin American rhythm’. (source: Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918 – 1964).
In 2001 the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) celebrated their 75th Anniversary by giving it's 3000 members and an invited academy of 100 other voters the opportunity to vote for the 30 best songs composed by New Zealanders in it's history. Blue Smoke was voted number 17.

More Williams/Karaitiana magic

After 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'Connell

In 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 - 1950

Karaitiana 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 gems

Little 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 - 2011

Pixie 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 Williams
Anyone who knows Pixie, and her life, knows this to be true.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Misadventures of Salem Hyde - Book One: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso (Children's graphic Novel)

Salem Hyde just isn’t like other kids. For one thing, she’s stubborn, independent, and impulsive. For another, she’s a witch. Salem acts first and thinks later—which means most of her thinking involves coming up with excuses! Good thing she’s been assigned an animal companion, Lord Percival J. Whamsford III. This over-anxious cat doesn’t like Salem calling him “Whammy,” and Salem doesn’t like listening to his long-winded explanations as to why she shouldn’t do something . . . like enter the class spelling bee. Salem knows she can beat all her classmates at spells, no problem. Too late, she realizes the competition is about spelling words, not magic. And there’s nothing like a misspelled spell to cause all kinds of havoc! I found this book rather charming. it has the old school, quick fire wit of Calvin and Hobbs or Dennis the Menace. It reads like a simple newspaper strip, albe it in a slightly longer panel format. The story is based around a fifties retro art style, or perhaps the reinterpretation - ala Spumco (the makers of Ren and Stimpy) but the humour and wit is very clean. it would definitly suit a 10 year old - mine's read it four times to date -"Finally something decent on your Kindle, Dad!"

Together in Cyn - Jennifer Kacy - Smith Publicity -- Elloras Cave Publishing Inc - Available as a Kindle read

The teaser read like this "She knows it’s wrong. Cyn shouldn’t have feelings for fraternal twins Jared and Chris, her best friends. She shouldn’t want them to tie her up or strap her down, to take her one at a time—or together. The only way to control her taboo desires is to write them down and lock them away in her diary. Guys like Jared and Chris could never be interested in someone like her, or in the kind of sex she craves." I should have known better. With a plot sucked straight out of the middle of 50 Shades of Gray, and a style to match this book is pure Mummy-Porn all the way through. Smaltzy, gushy, romantic tripe. But some how I felt compelled to read on. The sex scenes aren't original, or too explicit, but sufficiently juicy to get a, err, rise! What weigh it down is the random waddles into self-analysis. The main character, Cynthia, is haunted by rape and bondage issues. So she chronicles them in her diary. Brothers Chris and Jared, lifelong sweetheart/lust material, and super buff to boot, read the diary ad put a plan in place to take her to their special club to help her over come (and cum) her fears of the unknown. Whilst there she is confronted and whipped and almost raped by her former boyfriend. I wont giveaway the ending, but you can guess where this is going. Clearly this is written for strong, intelligent, conservative, deviant women who want a bit of dominance with their cliché romance heroes (Mr. Darcy in leather bondage jodhpurs). However, this is not sexy, or interesting. I found it way too sickly sweet. If you want sexual arousal and a mind f**k that leaves you seriously testing your boundaries then read Anais Nin. Her work will challenge you. This, alas falls short of that standard. Oh well.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A while back we interviewed Doris Du Pont about her wonderful new book 'Black' which exspored the colour Black in the NZ fashion psyche. Doris is in charge of the NZ Fashion Museum, and this book, which toured it's first exhibition 2 year's ago was their inaugural project. The museum is now fully up and running and we here at Groove celebrate that. We invite you to take your own tour and to also refresh your minds on the wonderful book - so click here to go to the museum and here to have another read of the article. +

From Idealog.co.nz: @ 9:48 am Online Fashion Museum goes live New Zealand now has its own virtual fashion museum, in what aims to be the “go to” portal for a comprehensive record of the country’s fashion history. The New Zealand Fashion Museum had been planned since the creation of the Fashion Museum in 2010 and is now live, after three years of fundraising from private donors. The online museum currently features the photographic records of garments and accessories from the Fashion Museum’s prior exhibitions, as well as video footage from the exhibitions. However, as it evolves, the online museum is expected to have its own exhibition programme. The website developers, We Are Mouse, have also created the platform to allow other museums, libraries and fashion designers and individuals passionate about fashion to upload and share their own historical content directly onto the site. The user upload will enable the Fashion Museum to collect some of the oral history and living knowledge about the New Zealand fashion industry and experience that may otherwise be lost. The upload feature has only been live for a week but promising content has already been added, including a pair of suede shoes from the 1960s manufactured in New Zealand under the label Schiaparelli. “Over 100,000 New Zealanders have already been to our pop-up exhibitions. We anticipate our web reach will be considerably larger as our online museum relays information from our prior exhibitions, the digital collections, historic images and narratives and it is open 24/7,” says Fashion Museum founder and trustee Doris de Pont.