Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Slap than Tickle, Dept.

I have vague recollections of my childhood before age, say, 8. The apartment in which we lived that I recall as always being dark, even at midday. The cat that belonged to the grocery store on Broadway, the first cat I'd ever approached, that scratched naive me as I went to pet it. Fucking cat. And I remember Popeye cartoons.

They were shown after school on local television, one of those shows hosted by an actor dressed as a cop or a cowboy. This one dressed like a ship's captain. I don't know if the nautical theme inspired the choice of cartoon or vice, you know, versa, but he aired Popeye cartoons every afternoon, just before or after the pretend cop who aired Three Stooges shorts, make of that pairing what you will.

Even as a kid, I preferred the Fleischer Popeyes to the a.a.p./United Artists versions. For one thing, I didn't like his nephews, introduced in the latter series. No Huey, Dewey and Louie, they. I mean, "Poopeye, Pipeye, Pupeye, Peepeye"? Ugh. "Poopeye" sounds like a scat-flick parody of Elzie Segar's sailorman, I also didn't like the all-white uniform Popeye wore in the later cartoons. And the fact that the newer versions didn't have the slamming shipboard door to transition between credits during the opening. As you might have guessed, I was a finicky child. But one with impeccable taste, apparently.

So, Popeye...he and Mr. Rough Trade, Bluto, vying for the favors of Olive Oyl. Who, in retrospect, sounds like Marge Simpson filtered through Edith Bunker. This one episode that I recall with absolutely no certainty of its existence in this time-space continuum involved Popeye and Bluto, as usual, beating the bejeezus out of each other but on the dancefloor. Or maybe Bluto and Olive Oyl first, then Bluto and Popeye.

At any rate, they went back and forth in a ritualized dance that may or may not have been familiar to me at the time from whatever other flotsam of films, cartoons and television I'd gathered in the hem of my Alice Blue Gown, but which I now recognize as having been an Apache Dance.

Pronounced "ah-PASH" rather than, you know, "uh-PAH-chee," the dance, in Wikipedia's words:

" taken from a Parisian street gang, which in turn was named for the American Indian tribe due to the perceived savagery of the hoodlums. The term came to be used more generally to refer to certain vicious elements of the Paris underworld at the beginning of the 20th century.

The dance is very brutal to the woman, and sometimes said to reenact a "discussion" between pimp and prostitute. It includes mock slaps and punches, the man picking up and throwing the woman to the ground, or lifting and carrying her while she struggles or feigns unconsciousness.

And, so, a dance from the 1900s is transmitted through a cartoon of the 1930s to a li'l sobsister decades later. And people think we've got durable memes now...

So, here for your dining and slapping pleasure, is a small selection of Apache Dance numbers courtesy of the Why Tee.

A straightforward one here.
A straightforward one bookended by zany bits from the Crazy Gang in 1937 here.
Cicely Courtneidge does one from 1933's Aunt Sally here.
While Gracie Fields watches then does one herself from 1934's Queen of Hearts here.
An Apache dancer comes to a pointy end in this excerpt from 1935's Charlie Chan in Paris here.
And, finally, a silent clip from 1902 accompanied by useful written commentary here.

Yes, more Danse Apache video clips than you'd ever have thought possible, thanks to the magic of the Intertubes. Enjoy, learn and, in the words of Wang Chung,

Take your baby by the hair
And pull her close and there there there
Take your baby by the ears
And play upon her darkest fears

Saturday, August 01, 2009

My words? They taste like wormwood and head cheese, Dept.

Oh, sure. I mocked the tweeting. I placed myself above the tweeting. But now, a casual glance at my right sidebar reveals...I'm a-tweeting.

Now, you may ask, "Sobsister, why Sobsister why?" And the answer comes in the form of a realization I experienced, an epiphany that was bestowed unto me, and that was this: I'm just that fascinating.

Yes. I am sufficiently fascinating that I believe that my most casual glimmer of a notion of a thought deserves immortality even as volumes and libraries of the work of the greatest minds of the classical world are being used as privy paper somewhere in Egypt.

Therefore, never send to know for whom the bird tweets; it tweets for thee.