Thoughts on FilKONtario Part 2: the concert

This is probably going to be a long one, so prepare yourself! Get a snack; I’ll wait…

I’ve always been a performer in one sense or another. I had a not-insignificant role in my 5th grade play. I was in a community theater production of Annie when I was in middle school. I was a cheerleader (don’t judge me! And if a cheerleader hurt you in your formative years, let me apologize on behalf of all nice-girl-cheerleaders everywhere…)

I never really thought of myself as a performer in the musical sense. I had been scared off of singing by an experience in middle school (Even after getting a role in Annie, I was cut from the middle school show choir. I ask you, who does that? It was middle school, and it’s not like I went to a performing arts school or it was super competitive or anything…but I digress.) When I went to college, I joined a sorority that took music very, very seriously, and I declared myself a founding member of the “tone deaf club.” Now, to be fair, I knew I wasn’t actually tone deaf, because people who are actually tone deaf have no idea that they’ve hit the wrong note. For us, it was about being people with no musical/vocal training among people who had been singing in choirs their entire lives. I was intimidated. I wasn’t very good at harmonizing. And so, I went merrily on with my life, singing when I had to (at things like Greek Sing, or other sorority events), but otherwise, singing along with the radio or my CDs was about it.

Well, it’s probably no surprise that the longer I hung around in filk, the more people started to express an interest in hearing me sing (*coughdebbieohicough*). I protested at first, but little by little, people started to wear me down. 😉 The first time I sang at all was in a very tiny circle very late at night at GAFilk in 2007. I blame Amanda.

erin and jam banquet

Amanda is one of my co-editors at Toasted Cheese, and the reason I sort of kind of knew what filk was before I even met Rand. We had been online buds since…ummm…I’m going to say 1999? But this was the first time we had met in person. Anyway, Amanda had written a short filk of “One Singular Sensation” and she asked me to sing it with her. We practiced it a few times, and then went looking for a small circle to sing it in. So, a handful of people in that room heard me sing that night.

I think it might have been the following year (at GAFilk again) that Rand convinced me to sing a bit of a Flaming Lips song with him–not “Yoshimi,” but “Fight Test,” which has a chorus with overlapping parts that becomes counterpoint at the end. The Flaming Lips are kind of known for having a singer who can’t really sing, so I figured it was pretty low pressure. (Actually, here’s a post I wrote about that.)

After that, he convinced me to try “Yoshimi,” which would have me singing lead. We worked on it, and I sang it in a circle at FKO in 2009.

Yoshimi!!!!!

(Photo by Brooke Lunderville)

People seemed to enjoy that, so I was encouraged. Rand and I kept singing “Yoshimi” in circles, but I was a little worried that people were going to start to get sick of hearing it, so I never really pushed for it. 😉

In 2010, Rand and Adam were nominated for a Pegasus award, and Adam was unable to attend the convention to perform it. Rand asked me if I wanted to try to do it. “Um…” I said.  I agreed to work on it with him (and I think I only freaked out and had a meltdown once!) We went ahead and did it, and but for the fact that I was later informed that Rand’s microphone wasn’t working, I think it went okay.

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(Photo by Walter Korynkiewicz)

Fast forward to last year, when Tom contacted Rand to invite us to be this year’s Filk Waifs. We started putting together a list of things we might be able to sing together, as well as ideas for songs (mostly parodies) that we might be able to write. I bought a ukulele last August, thinking that I might get good enough at one or two things to play it in the concert. (that…did not happen. It will, but I was more focused on the singing. Did I mention I was nervous about the singing? I ended up taking voice lessons from a former colleague, which was a HUGE help. Thanks again, Shelley!)

Erin practising in our room

(practicing in UT’s room Saturday morning. I’m playing a melodica–also known as a hooter. Photo by Allison Durno)

Fast forward again to the day of the concert. The Filk Waif concert is the first concert on Saturday. After having breakfast, Rand and I met up with UT to rehearse a song they were going to be performing with us, and we showed them a couple of other things we were going to be performing as well. It was really, really good for me to have a chance to warm up.  After that, there were a couple of workshops. I ran one on calligraphy and paper crafts. Tim Walker ran a percussion workshop at the same time, which I am super bummed I couldn’t attend! I’ll write more about the workshop later. After the workshop, we grabbed a quick bite to eat in our room, and then it was go time!

Rand and Erin's Concert

(Photo by Debbie Ohi)

Here’s the set we played:

  • Star Wars That I Used to Know (parody of “Somebody that I Used to Know” by Gotye. Credits can be found at the YouTube link)
  • My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors by Moxy Fruvous
  • St. Brendan’s Way by Lowest of the Low
  • Actually Ironic (parody? sort of? of “Ironic” by Alanis Morrissette)
  • Dear Seanan (parody of “Dear Gina” by Seanan McGuire written by me and Merav Hoffman. Video and lyrics at the link.)
  • Crackstatic by Ron Hawkins
  • Yoshimi/Space Oddity/Major Tom mashup (Flaming Lips, David Bowie, Peter Schilling)
  • Cliffs of Insanity (parody of “Green Hills of Harmony” written by me with help from Rand and an assist from Amanda. More info in my previous post, linked.)
  • Still Can’t Buy Me Love by Ookla the Mok (with Urban Tapestry)

If you’re interested in the lyrics (other than the parodies I wrote/co-wrote, which can be found at the links), they can all quite easily be found by googling. I’m tired. 😉

I’m pretty sure it was a success. 😉 After we left the stage, Tim and Annie (who knew how nervous I was) ran over to us and gave us gigantic hugs, and everyone we talked to seemed to enjoy the performance. So…singing! Win! Right now, the “Dear Seanan” video is the only one I am aware of. I’m sure other things will appear eventually, and I’ll let you know!

Here’s Allison’s post about Saturday at FKO. I’ll have more later. Stay tuned!

Thoughts on FilKONtario (part 1)

To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure where to begin. I guess I’ll begin here: FKO 23 was simply amazing.

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(I know that ribbon is hard to read, but it says “Guest.”)

I mentioned before, but I will mention again, that I’ve been attending FKO regularly since Rand first brought me there in 2005. (I appear not to have taken any photos at FKO 2005. I’m going to borrow some!)

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(Me with Debbie Ohi at FKO 2005. Photo by Allison Durno)

I had a wonderful time at my first FKO (which was also my first Filk convention); I got to meet/see/hear so many fantastic people, like Debbie, Allison, and Jodi of Urban Tapestry, and Carla Ulbrich and Joe Giacoio, and Tom Smith, and John Hall, and Tanya Huff, and Steve MacDonald, and Mary Ellen Wessels, and Kathleen Sloan, and…oh, man folks, we could be here all day. 🙂 Let’s just say that if I met/encountered you at FKO in 2005, you were part of a very important moment in my life. What I can say, without a doubt, is that I felt immediately welcomed. I was afraid it would be awkward. Here was Rand, bringing in this new person. I didn’t sing or play an instrument; I am introverted and tend to be awkward in social situations when I don’t know many people. Those worries turned out to be unfounded, and needless to say, I kept coming back.

And fast forward to this…

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When Rand told me that Tom had contacted him and wanted us to be Filk Waifs at FKO this year, I was incredibly honored. I think I cried a little. (and let’s be perfectly honest…I was also a little terrified. Not so much about the hosting duties, but about the fact that the gig comes with a concert. I started to get all rambly here, but I decided that I’m going to move all the rambly bits about singing to a separate post, which will include details about the concert…look for that soon.)

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(Hanging out in the con suite Friday evening. Photo by Dave Weingart. I’ll be relying on the photos of others for most of this post, as I was a bit too preoccupied to take very many photos myself!)

Rand and I arrived at the hotel late Thursday afternoon and got to enjoy a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant with Tom and Sue Jeffers, Dave Clement, and Ju Honisch. And to tell you the truth, I have very little memory of what else we did on Thursday. It was nice arriving on Thursday, though, because it allowed us to have a pretty easygoing Friday. These details are also a little fuzzy, so I’m going to skip on ahead to the actual convention.

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(Photo by Phil Mills)

After an informal meet-and-greet, things kicked off with Kathleen Sloan performing her song “Take it Back.” The song has a beautiful message, and I think the world would be a better place if more people took it to heart!

The opening song was followed by concerts from Judith Hayman and Peggi Warner-Lalonde and Cat Faber, both of which were lovely. It was during Friday night’s concerts that Rand and I began our hosting duties, giving brief introductions for each of the performers and making various announcements throughout the weekend. As each of the performers took the stage, we asked them to answer a question from our Master List of Questions. (Sample questions: Flight or invisibility? Kirk or Picard? What product do you most miss from your childhood? And so on…)

I think the questions were a hit. 😉 After the opening concerts, we headed into the night’s big event: Urban Tapestry’s 20th Anniversary concert!

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(Photo by Dave Weingart)

Urban Tapestry is always a pleasure to see and hear, and this concert was no exception! Here’s a link to Allison’s livejournal that includes a video of one of the songs they performed (“I Am Stardust”). Allison wrote more about Friday night at FKO here.

And…I think this is going to be a long one, so I’m going to call this part one and end it here. More coming soon!

Video from FKO

Video of Rand and me performing “Dear Seanan”- a parody of Seanan McGuire’s song “Dear Gina” based on her October Daye series. Lyrics (by me and Merav Hoffman) are below the cut.

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I found this post in my drafts

…I don’t know why I never posted it. It is from 2010. Ahem.

It’s September.

For me, and for lots of other people, September means back-to-school. It’s easy to approach the Labor Day weekend with regret, thinking about things you planned to do and didn’t…so I’ve decided instead to take a look back at my summer and celebrate what I did accomplish.

(For my purposes, “accomplishments” shall be defined very loosely.)

Reading

I’ve done quite a bit of reading this summer…much of it just for fun, but some for professional development as well. You can check my Read in 2010 shelf at goodreads if you want to see specifics. Some of my favorite reads have included the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley and Feed by Mira Grant. Feed is definitely deserving of a post all to itself, and I will get to it soon!

Vacation

Rand and I took a week in July and drove to central Tennessee, where it was really, really hot. We visited lots and lots of used bookstores. I bought stuff for my classroom as well as many things just for my reading pleasure. (side note–oh, Half Price Books, why do you not exist in New York???)

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(some of the stuff I bought)

We didn’t enjoy the outdoors much (did I mention it was really, really hot?), but we did enjoy sleeping in, reading, watching DVDs, and cooking out.

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(the view from the back of our cottage)

We celebrated our anniversary (two years!) at the Brass Lantern restaurant in Crossville, TN.

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And we visited with my dear friend Stephanie and her family. We had great food, great conversation, and an overall lovely time. No pics, sorry!

I think I had meant to write more. Who knows what I intended to say…

Home to FilKONtario

FKO

So as you may recall, I posted a while back about Rand and I being invited to be the Filk Waifs (aka toastmasters) at FilKONtario this year. Well, the big event is coming up–very soon! (April 19-21)

I kind of think of FKO as a home convention…because it’s so close, we’re pretty much there every year. I haven’t missed one since Rand first brought me in 2005.

erinuke

If you come, you might get to see me play the ukulele. Here I am playing a chord!

Other exciting things you will see/hear at FKO this year include:

Tim and Annie Walker, all the way from England! They are fantastic people as well as fantastic musicians, and I’m so looking forward to spending more time with them.

Urban Tapestry in concert! (That’s them on stage in the first photo I posted.) Debbie, Allison, and Jodi are among my favorite people in the entire world, and they are always wonderful in concert.

In addition to our concert and other filk waifing duties, I’ll be offering a calligraphy and papercrafting workshop, and Rand will be hosting a found filk circle. (Visit the FKO website by clicking the photo at the top of this post for more info. And if you’re reading this and wondering “what the heck is filk? check out Debbie Ohi’s Filk FAQ. Also, at the end of this post, I included a description I wrote during a particularly awesome filk circle at GAFilk in 2006).

I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone there! 🙂

Yoshimi!!!!!

 

(Rand and I performing “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” in a filk circle at FKO in 2009. Photo by Brooke Lunderville)

Gonna have a good time

Because I know A LOT of people celebrating a birthday today, many of them related to me, I started today off by sharing this video on Facebook:

Got myself a birthday pedicure (no, I’m not posting new pics), and indulged in some fresh-cut fries at Five Guys.

Later, after Rand gets home, we’ll be going out for Korean bbq (YUM).

I think I’m going to spend a bit of quality time with my birthday present (which yes, I did get early) before then:
my ukulele

(That’s the pic I took in the store, which is better than the one I took at home. Isn’t it pretty?) I’m still mainly practicing the same 3 chords, and trying to work a couple of new ones in. I’m currently not very good at moving my fingers smoothly to or from G. I’m trying to make sure I pick it up and play with it for at least 10-15 minutes every day (more if I feel like it/if my fingers don’t hurt too much). Wish me luck!

 

Meet Seanan

I know many of you don’t need to be introduced to my dear friend Seanan McGuire, but for those of you who do…I’d like to spend some time telling you how awesome she is.

Seanan threatens to eat me

(Seanan will occasionally try to eat your face. Do not be alarmed.)

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Things I need to do today

 

1. Fill out/finish applications for substitute teaching.

 

(at least for now)

2. Do a piece of calligraphy.

3. Do something with the basil and mint I harvested yesterday.

Nope. Oops.

4. Go to the post office.

5. Laundry.

6. DIY pedicure.

I’ll be back later with an update!

 

A few of my favorite posts

This is something I’ve meant to do for a long time now…a collection of some of my favorite posts from over the years. I’ll include some of my wedding blog posts too!

We are…heartbroken (Nov. 15, 2011)

What’s in a name? (Nov. 28, 2007)

Like a horse and carriage (Feb. 15, 2006)

Friday ponderings (Jan. 21, 2005)

You can learn how to be you in time (Dec. 9, 2004)

That’s it for now…possibly to be amended later.

Things to do

I wanted to make myself a public list of things I would like to do/accomplish in the next year of my life:

1. Write

At the very least, I owe my good friend Eden a short story. (from that “pay it forward” handmade thing on facebook…she specifically requested a story. hee)

I’d also like to maybe do some songwriting…many, many years ago, I was writing song lyrics. I don’t write music, though, so they just sat there. Oddly enough, I now know someone (well, LOTS of someones, actually, but I LIVE WITH one of them) who does…so, I’m thinking maybe I should revisit that creative outlet!

2. Sing better

I’m not a terrible singer, but yo, I’m sometimes a little pitchy, dawg. I want to work on that, and get more confident. If anyone has any tips or advice, please feel free to share!

3. Learn an instrument?

Uh, yeah. But what? I have no idea. Rand has mentioned the ukelele a couple of times. Now, by no means am I talking about becoming technically proficient at anything, but I think learning a few songs on some instrument might be a reasonable goal.

4. Learn some ASL

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years and years and years. Again, if anyone has suggestions of resources (videos? YouTube?), send ’em my way!

That’s probably enough for now…I thought maybe putting it out there into the world would help. I’ll keep you all updated. 😉