As usual, I'll face some hard choices in completing the ballot, but at least I do feel pretty familiar with nearly everything on the ballot.
Choosing between Girl That's Never Been and Rich Fantasy Lives for Best Song is gonna hurt. Both of these songs are so good that they continue to blow me away every time I hear them. I don't mean to disparage Archetype Cafe or A Thousand Ships -- they're both really good songs -- but Girl and Fantasy are just off the scale. (As to Close Your Eyes -- maybe I'm just a crotchety old no-fun curmudgeon, but I didn't think it was *THAT* funny the first time, and it's worn a little thin in all the times I've heard it since. I don't hate the song. It does amuse me. But it's not a favorite.)
The Classic Filk Song category is a bit tough too. I read it and think, "What? Ship of Stone never won a Peggy? Stray Dog Man never won either?" And Black Davie's Ride is probably my favorite Cindy song. I'll have to stew on this one for a while, although Ship of Stone is the early favorite for my vote.
Best Writer/Composer is, the only real (that is, non-rotating) category that will be easy. After about the third time I listened to Pretty Little Dead Girl, I knew I couldn't vote for anyone but Seanan. And I've listened to it a lot more than 3 times, and it's still better every time. The only thing that would sway me would be if Cindy had never won the award. But she did, and while the rules people to win the person awards multiple times, I have a strong preference for seeing the best performer and best writer/composer awards go to someone who hasn't won them before.
Best Performer is a bit of a conundrum for me. I think Tom is the best performer on the slate, but he's won the award twice -- although not for a long time. Ookla has also won it before. And smac has won before too. That leaves me choosing between Christo, Judi, and someone who has already won. What it really comes down to, I guess, is whether I really think Judi should be considered Best Performer. Everyone else who's ever been a Best Performer, in fact I think everyone else who's ever been nominated, has been a singer, and most are also instrumentalists. Judi is incredible, but she's working in a whole different medium. I'm not sure if I just need some time to get used to a new idea, or if I will still feel like the award doesn't fit come October. Of course my readers are welcome to offer their thoughts, but I really have to work out for myself whether I think it's an appropriate choice.
And then we get to the darn rotating categories. Weren't we supposed to have an official statement on the nominating ballot of what the Pegasus committee meant by the category names? Somehow most of the entries in the categories don't seem to belong in the categories, and I want to choose the category winners as the song I think best exemplifies the category, not the best song overall that got nominated even though it doesn't fit. March of Cambreadth perfectly fits my mental picture of Battle Song. None of the others seem to quite fit, and it's an outstanding song, so it gets my vote. As to the torch songs, I'm still a little fuzzy on what makes something a torch song -- but in my perhaps out-of-step impression of what makes a torch song, a critical element is that the singer should be singing *to* the target of his/her romantic interest. Not just telling a story, whatever the subtext, but directly saying I Love You. And all of the songs on the list are telling a story, or describing the singer's passions to a general audience. (Except, maybe, for Legolas -- while I've heard it, I don't know it at all well.) I'll have to either come to a more general understanding of "torch song", or else accept a song that doesn't feel like it fits, before I can vote.