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Pegasus comments - Phil's Rambling Rants — LiveJournal
October 26th, 2005
12:07 am

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Pegasus comments
For some reason I feel motivated to do a post mortem on this year's Pegasus ballot and results.

In the Best Filk Song category, the nominees were Archetype Cafe, The Girl That's Never Been, Rocket Ride, Stimmen im Wind, and Uplift.  Not that real clunkers tend to make it to the ballot in this category, but these are all excellent.  However, Rocket Ride stands above the others for me as the one that really needs the award, and I was pleased that it won.  I was really impressed at the nominees' concert performances of The Girl That's Never Been and Stimmen im Wind, but even if I had been voting at-con, I still would have picked Rocket Ride.

In the Best Classic Filk Song category, the nominees were Before the Dawn, Chess, Marcon Ballroom, Nessie, Come Up, and Never Set the Cat On Fire.  All of these are very familiar to me except Before the Dawn, and they're all cherished old friends, and Before the Dawn is impressive.  But Never Set the Cat On Fire is one of the songs that defined what filk was back in the day when I was getting started; it's hard to believe that it hadn't won a Peggy before, and it was unthinkable that it wouldn't win this time.  Good choice.

For Best Performer, we had Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff, Dr. Mary Crowell, Heather Dale, Divine Strumpet, and Carla Ulbrich.  Divine Strumpet was the one nominee on the whole ballot I was completely unfamiliar with, and it certainly wasn't easy to choose among the other 4.  I voted for Mary, but I can't say I think the world made a bad choice in the Bohnhoffs.

For Best Writer/Composer, we had Heather Dale, Cat Faber, Blake Hodgetts, Seanan McGuire, and Tom Smith.  Cat and Tom are both incredible songwriters, but as they have both won twice, I feel they've been sufficiently honored.  Heather is also wonderful, but I don't feel quite ready to vote for her for a Peggy.  That left me trying to choose between Blake and Seanan, and that was the toughest choice I made in filling out my ballot.  I went with Blake, probably because I'm more familiar with his work; if I could have filled out my ballot after Seanan's Toastmaster concert, I would have voted for her.  But the award went to Tom, which I was just a little annoyed by, because, ya know, he's already won it twice.

Then we get to the rotating categories.  The rotating categories are the one thing I don't like about the Pegasus awards, and the reason I don't like them is well illustrated by this year's nominees:  most of the nominees, though they are fine songs, do not belong in the categories they land in.  For me, it diminishes the awards and the songs to have them nominated, or worse, win, in categories they don't fit.  (I hear that for next year, the ballots will actually have some description of what the categories are supposed to mean, rather than just naming them.  Hopefully this will improve the situation.)

The first rotating category was Best Space Opera Song.  I talked about this during the nominating process.  Space opera means something fairly specific to me, something which I have trouble defining, but I do know it when I see it.  The nominees were The Ballad of Stan Long, Barrayaran Roses, Evil Overlords Anonymous, Our Space Opera Goes Rolling Along, and Signy Mallory.  Evil Overlords Anonymous is cute, but doesn't have anything at all to do with the category, and Barrayaran Roses and Signy Mallory are both great songs, but I think both of them are from source material too serious to be called space opera.  Stan Long is a good space opera plot, and Our Space Opera Goes Rolling Along is actually about true hard-core space opera, so it is certainly the most on-point song of the nominees.  It's also a sentimental favorite going way back; it was one of the first half dozen songs I collected for my filk book, and might be the first one I memorized, so I voted for it.  Signy Mallory won.  Great song, but Cherryh's Alliance/Union series is more than space opera, and I didn't think it should have been nominated.

The second rotating category was Best Sword and Sorcery Song.  We had Dragon For Sale, Feygrass, Threes, Urban Legends, and Wizard of Macke Town.  Now, Sword and Sorcery is a specific subgenre of fantasy.  It is not just anything about magic.  Feygrass and Urban Legends are not there at all, and Dragon For Sale is only very tenuously there.  Threes and Wizard, on the other hand, fit the category perfectly, and they're both kick ass songs; I voted for Threes because it's been a favorite for a very long time, and I was glad to see that it won.  (Which reminds me that the lyrics Mary sang in the concert were quite substantially different from the version I know, from Horsetamer's Daughter and also from Misty's own songbook, that she gave me a copy of back in the day when she actually came to cons and we were friends.  Where did those lyrics come from?)

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From:catalana
Date:October 26th, 2005 02:01 pm (UTC)
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Two things:

1. We're going to try to make the catagories clearer next year by adding descriptive text; unfortunately, when the OVFF concom picks a name for the category it isn't always clear to anyone else what their intention is.

2. We didn't have time to get into this at the Pegasus meeting because of the Wild Mercy concert, but we're lengthening the ineligibility period for performer/composer. Up until now we've been going with a one-year off period; we're going with five years off now. We'll be making this retroactive, so that means the following people are ineligible in the category named until the year listed

Composer
Tom Smith - 2011
Kathy Mar - 2010
Cat Faber - 2009
Zander Nyrond - 2008
Talis Kimberley - 2007

Performer
Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff - 2011
Urban Tapestry - 2010
Dandelion Wine - 2009
Three Weird Sisters - 2008
Talis Kimberley - 2007

This should cause new blood to make it into the Pegasus Awards in these categories.

(Oh, and as for Threes, there are multiple versions of the words out there; you'd have to ask Mary where she got the ones she did.)



[User Picture]
From:phillip2637
Date:October 26th, 2005 02:35 pm (UTC)
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"We're going to try to make the catagories clearer next year by adding descriptive text; unfortunately, when the OVFF concom picks a name for the category it isn't always clear to anyone else what their intention is."

Sorry for going a bit off topic here, but I wonder if anyone has considered applying that sentence with a substitution of "songwriting contest topic" for "category". From what I heard, I suspect I wasn't the only person more confused than inspired.
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From:tigertoy
Date:October 26th, 2005 05:15 pm (UTC)
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Part of the fun of the songwriting contest is people coming up with novel interpretations of the topic. I like seeing people taking a creative approach to writing a new song; what I don't like is seeing them make creative excuses for why the song they already wrote should be considered eligible when most people would say it's not.
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From:tigertoy
Date:October 26th, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC)
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Changing the eligibility on the person awards so someone can't win their second Best Performer or Writer/Composer until 5 years after the first is a good idea. My own personal feeling is still that someone who has won the award in the past should be handicapped, so if for example Cat is on the ballot again in 2009, I will only vote for her if I think she's enough better than the second place that she deserves a redundant award. But that's a subjective decision that I couldn't put into words as a clear rule even if I were picking the awards myself. I suppose one could say that a person should only get a second (or third) award if the things they've done since they won the last award, ignoring their previous work, deserve the award, but our minds don't work that way.
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From:beige_alert
Date:October 26th, 2005 02:38 pm (UTC)
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I agree that the songs in the rotating categories didn't necessarily seem to fit the categories, and certainly didn't seem similar enough to all belong in the same category whether or not a case could be made for a fit in isolation.
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