Make Tom Smith spew with hand jive
For a change feel really alive
Or would you rather get some sleep?
I came up with that summary of Saturday's filking in the shower Sunday morning.
I took the dogs to Jim and Robin's and got all my stuff into the car only a few minutes later than I meant to, arriving at birder2's at about 4, when I meant to be leaving. Somehow, even though I was only taking the things I normally take with me to cons, it seemed to take up more room in the car than I expected, and by the time I got her stuff in the car too, it was clear that there was no way that both catalana and her guitar would fit into the remaining space, so I left Tiger at birder2's. Oddly enough, I think that was the only possession I missed for the weekend -- if I forgot anything, I didn't actually notice. bider2 and I headed to Champaign and got catalana, and we headed up to Chicago. The trip was leavened with amusing discussion, which touched on a student arguing about how Tolkien should have been involved in writing The Great American Novel (boggle), and what The Lord of the Rings would have been like if written by Hemingway. OK, I guess you had to be there. Traffic was a non-problem; when we got onto 290 from 294, we didn't have to slow down until we got onto the curved part of the entrance ramp. This speculated me to wonder whether I'd missed the news that Chicago had been evacuated due to an ebola outbreak; I'd been expecting to spend at least 5 minutes backed up at that intersection.
We arrived at the hotel without incident (unless you count my forgetting which end of the hotel the front desk was at as an incident, which I think would be harsh). birder2 checked herself and me into a room on the 4th floor (meaning that I'd be able to take the stairs for the rest of the con), we picked up our badges with no more problems than some misspellings, said hi to exapno, and checked into the art show. We were starving by this time, and discovered to our delight that the con was providing a taco bar, where we proceeded to chow down while greeting various people. The Thursday night filk was anchored by Peter Beagle and Kat Eggleston, which was quite a treat. I had never heard Peter Beagle either live or recorded; I knew he was a musician, but that was about it. He turns out to be a folk/blues guitarist, quite competent even though he apologized for being rusty, with very nice songs. In particular, he did a pirate ballad that I really want to learn; I am not clear if it is a song that he wrote or if he gleaned it, but in any case, I would like to find a recording. It tells the story of a Caribbean pirate named Mary Reed, supposedly a real figure (Peter said the story was "true with stretchers"); the chorus runs "Here's a glass to every prize and two for every dirty deed / And three more for the soul of wicked, loving Mary Reed." Anyone heard of it (other than from this weekend)? I'm really having trouble remembering all the way back to Thursday night, but I didn't get back to the room until nearly 3, it was a good night of filking, and this was only Thursday. Racking my brain, I remember that I proclaimed my mission to sing Cindy songs and did "Gilda and the Dragon" when something a bit silly seemed to be called for, and almeda revealed that the Cindy song she said she'd been working on that I did was in fact not a Cindy song at all (she'd been confused) which helps to explain why I had no idea of what song she was talking about. It was "Dark Wine and Roses", which she sang a capella, to a tune that wasn't quite mine. More on this song later.
Friday, I managed to get up in time to stop briefly by ericcoleman's concert, and singlemaltsilk asked me if I would come to the Absent Friends theme filk later that afternoon and do some Cindy. I had a bit of a Homer Simpson moment, because it hadn't occurred to me that I should do that until she mentioned it. I wanted to get to Bryan Palaszewski's presentation on alternative propulsion systems, which was supposed to overlap the first half of the Absent Friends, but I said I'd try to make it. It turned out that Palaszewski only had one hour worth of presentation (and sadly, only about 10-15 minutes worth of material on the actual propulsion systems; most of his talk was fairly fluffy stuff about the missions the propulsion systems were supposed to make possible, when what I wanted to hear about was the propulsion!), so I was able to drop in on the theme filk, which turned out pretty good. Several people did songs either written by or beloved by a bunch of people we're missing, including Stan Rogers, Buck Coulson, and Gordy Dickson. I believe I did "Ryan's Star" and "Crimson and Crystal" in honor of Cindy. This was followed by quadrivium's concert, which was good but didn't quite blow me away as much as I'd expected (but there was this really eerie song about some Egyptian wizard who was bemoaning his terrible fate that his magic had made him immortal that I really liked, both for the mood and for the insight that death isn't always so bad compared to the alternative). I was kind of hoping to find a dinner party, but nothing came up. I walked through the art show, where there was some new stuff, and some good stuff, but nothing that tempted me too seriously, and nobody had bid on any of my stuff. I got to Michael "Moonwulf" Longcor's Internet Cafe set, which was good stuff (saying that Wulf was good is like saying the water was wet) but not much of anything new. I hit a couple of parties, stopping in barbarakitten_t's Heinlein Centennial party, and staying there (since the DucKon party was delayed opening) until Peter Beagle and Kat Eggleston's joint concert. Peter played some of the stuff he'd played Thursday night, but I didn't mind hearing it again (especially the Mary Reed song), and some other stuff as well, and Kat did some good stuff, although the only one of her originals that I remember knowing was "Flowering Green". I don't know her material well enough. Passing in the hall on different occasions, both of them mentioned to me that they'd enjoyed hearing what I'd done on Thursday, which swelled my head a bit. The open filk was a bit light on Friday, owing to most people not starting to filk until after the Peter and Kat show ended at midnight, but it was a good show. Again, my memory is hazy, but I recall hearing peteralway do "Polystyrene Shipwright" and "The Wide Ocean Sea", both of which I don't think I'd heard, and thinking, damn, Peter, you're getting really good, why do you have to keep singing "Barfy the Seasick Hedgehog"? And I did get to sing Kanef's "Crossed Over" for my good friend Art Warneke, who I thought would really appreciate it given that he'd already juxtaposed Anne Boleyn and Nearly Headless Nick by writing his song "Nearly Headless Nick" to the tune of "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm". It was received fairly well in general, but his reaction wasn't what I'd hoped -- he seemed amused, but nowhere near terminally so. I meant to ask him if he'd seen it before but I forgot to. (This was the song that vixyish almost put me in the hospital with at GaFilk.)
Saturday, I managed to get up in time for the Performance Master Class. (I think calling this workship "juried one-shots" is less intimidating, but whatever you call it, I think it is a great way to learn; I encourage cons to do it more often.) I chose Cat Faber's "The Word of God" for my piece, and I thought I did a pretty good performance for the workshop. The judges had one concrete piece of advice to which my initial emotional reaction was "you're nuts", but they all agreed on the point and I made myself consider it: lose the fingerpicks, they said. I apparently don't realize just how loud my guitar is with the metal fingerpicks -- they assure me I was overpowering my voice, even though I know I have plenty of vocal power. I resolved to try their advice at the master class concert. It is almost as interesting to hear what the masters say to the other students as what they say to me, so I was disappointed that I had to walk out, but I wanted to have lunch and get to the vocal workshop. As it was I was late to the vocal workshop, given by Wild Mercy's Jen Midkiff (who combines stunning vocal and instrumental talent with incredible good looks, and on top of it she's so nice you can't even hate her for it...) I hope my subconscious remembers what she talked about better than my conscious. She talked about the importance of breath support, and introduced some exercises that I need to make myself work on. This was followed by min0taur's Cheap Guitar Tricks workshop. I wouldn't call it cheap tricks, though; what he was covering was, to a bunch of filkers, pretty advanced technique. (When the starting point of the exercise is holding a full bar second position G chord, you're leaving a lot of filkers in the dust.) I think I got something out of the workshop (at least if I can remember it), but I was expecting simpler riffs and cheat techniques, rather than introduction to blues style. This was followed by Moonwulf's concert, which was great, but somewhat diminished by the fact that he repeated almost all of his Internet Cafe set; considering the size of his repertoire, those of us who made a point to get to both sets were wanting more different songs. After that, I'd been expecting to have another sandwich, but janmagic ended up herding a bunch of us to the buffet for a decent if somewhat overpriced real meal, where I ate way too much and almost couldn't stagger to the Wild Mercy concert. Wild Mercy was awesome; they mostly did material from their albums, with a couple of blues medleys of material from English and American literature thrown in to advance the academic theme. The souvenir program included one of the worst jokes of the whole weekend, describing "Queen of Argyll" (keep in mind the academic theme) as "Study A Broad in Scotland". They also punctuated a pirate song about how it's lots of fun being a pirate until somebody loses an ear by throwing a handful of plastic ears into the audience, and one of them landed squarely on my shoulder and stayed there for the whole song. They ran over their allotted hour, but filkertom magnanimously insisted they do their whole set. His own set was high energy, lots of fun, pretty much all familiar stuff, but with one real high point: as he was doing "A Walk Along the Beach", I started doing the hand jive, and as other people in the audience started picking it up, Tom started chuckling and cast aspersions on my parents marital status. I shouted that after all these years, I'd finally gotten him back, and the room dissolved in laughter and a five minute digression into how, young, brash, and inexperienced, I had challenged the audience to try to crack me up while I sang “Beware of the Sentient Chili”. With Tom sitting beside me. Yeah, I was young, brash, inexperienced, and *dumb* back then, and as soon as I hit the line “The vegetables plan insurrection”, Tom said “Duhhh, we’re takin’ over!” in a properly goofy voice, and of course won the challenge right there. I’ve (in a low key way) been looking for revenge ever since, and claimed it there. I was able to stop laughing before I actually passed out, but my ribs are still sore. And I was literally so charged up from that that it carried me through the whole evening. I love you, Tom. The open filk followed Tom’s concert, but for some reason it convened in the filk room (the concerts had very wisely been moved from the filk room to the double-sized room at the other end of the hall, but for some reason the open filk that was supposed to follow Tom’s show didn’t move with them). And somehow, we lost Tom during the move. We were just getting a good filk going when it was discovered that the room was totally full and there were still more people trying to mash themselves in the door, and so we found ourselves schlepping back to the other end of the hall, which is kind of annoying to me (having a medium amount of stuff), really annoying to some of my friends who like to bring a good-sized music store to the filk, and mostly frustrating because I’ve seen a lot more filks die from being moved to a different room than successfully take advantage of the better location they were moved to. But somewhat to my surprise, we still had a good, energetic filk for several more hours in the new room; it wasn’t even squashed when, inspired by Moonwulf performing “Hooters” I pulled out markiv1111’s “I Can’t Get Over You” and managed to fumble pretty much every bar chord in the whole song. I’ve seldom felt more of a pull to cleanse my honor with the rite of seppuku as when I finished that disaster -- I don’t know what the problem was; I’ve done it several times in public at least decently, but I just completely fell on my face that time. It took all the strength of 25 years of playing to keep singing and pretending to play through the comedy of errors on my left hand. And it’s a measure of just how good a mood I was in that I didn’t even run away and hide after it was over, and I did more stuff and I think even redeemed myself.
My apologies for cutting this off in the middle, but I’m falling asleep at the keyboard and I have to get up to pick up my puppies. I’ll finish this tomorrow afternoon (and to you pedants out there, the new day doesn’t begin until after I get up in the morning; it’s two o’clock in the morning, but it’s still Sunday night. From this vantage point, twelve hours hence is properly “tomorrow”.)