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!

More lyrics

This one is called “Cliffs of Insanity” and it’s a parody of “Green Hills of Harmony” (which is itself a parody of “Farewell to Sicily” (or “Banks of Sicily”) a Scottish song from WWII). Subject matter should be apparent. 😉 Lyrics are by me and Rand.

The lady is kidnapped and Guilder is framed
The six-fingered man haunts my subconscious brain
The rhymes of the giant drive Vizzini insane
And that word doesn’t mean what he’s thinkin’

And it’s sail, sail away from that sailboat
He may be gaining, but we’re not afraid
As we sail for the cliffs of insanity
All of the eels are shrieking

We don’t want to kill her, but it’s hard to avoid
Vizzini has told us we’ll be unemployed — >
Fezzik offers a peanut — Vizzini’s annoyed
When we get to the top, we’ll be leavin’

And it’s scale, scale, the side of the mountain
Hang on to Fezzik — the man in black gains
As we climb up the Cliffs of Insanity
All of the eels are shrieking

It’s time for a fight now, and well-matched are we
But I’m not left-handed, and neither is he
I have to admit that he’s better than me
And I’m knocked on the head when he’s leavin’

And it’s sleep, sleep, sleep off the headwound
I’ll wait for Vizzini — I will not be moved
And it’s fare ye well, ye cliffs of insanity
All of the eels are shrieking

Some fight for the glory. Some fight for the pay
But I am the Spaniard, and fighting’s my way
It’s a hard life to live, and a high price to pay
When the six-fingered man is still breathin’

Hello — My name is Inigo Montoya
You killed my father — Prepare to die
And it’s fare ye well ye Cliffs of Insanity,
All of the eels are shrieking

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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This is rape culture

I wrote this a few weeks ago, after the Steubenville verdict and ensuing reaction from the press. I wrote it and I was afraid to post it here, choosing instead to hide it in some more secret, anonymous spaces. Well, today, I say “eff that.”

Because then I read this story (and others, but it was mostly this one). Every time this happens, which is far too often, I am heartbroken. Again.

I’m starting out leaving comments on but moderated, but I’ll close them if I feel I have to.

Soapbox on.

TW: discussion of rape and rape culture. not graphic

You’re fourteen, and you go with a friend to a party at some older kids’ house. One of the boys asks you if you want something to drink, and you refuse a couple of times before saying, “Okay, I’ll have a Coke.” They bring you the coke and it kind of tastes funny, so you take a couple of sips and leave it somewhere before slipping away.

You’re sixteen, and you’re with your boyfriend at a graduation party, and some of the guys are sneaking extra booze into that girl’s drink when she’s not looking, and they’re laughing and making jokes. You don’t think anything happened to her, but you’re terrified about what could have happened.

You’re eighteen, and you’re trying to break up with that same boyfriend. He threatens to rape you, because if you’re going to leave, you’re going to leave really hating him. You’ve never been so scared…but then he stops and begs you to forgive him. (And you do, sort of, because you’re not quite ready to get out of this mess yet.)

You’re twenty-five, and you’re on a beach vacation with your girlfriends. You and one of the other girls are dancing and having a good time, so you stay out while everyone else goes back to the house. The guys you’re hanging out with invite you to come back to where they’re staying, a few miles down the road. Your friend drives, and you follow them. The guy you’re hanging out with turns out to be very sweet, a total gentleman, and one of the last things you say to him is, “Thank you for being a good guy,” because you can’t stop thinking about how differently this night might have turned out.

You’re twenty-nine, and you’re going to meet a guy you’ve been chatting with on an online dating site. You tell your roommate where you’re going, like you always do, “just in case.” You make jokes about it, but deep down, you know you’re not really kidding.

A comedian makes a joke about a member of his audience getting gang-raped, and the Internet jumps to defend him.

A story breaks about the gang rape of an eleven-year-old girl in Texas, and the media writes about what she was wearing.

A story breaks about a gruesome gang rape in India, and the Internet won’t shut up about how we must do something about those horrible woman-hating rapists over there. People warn their female friends who are visiting India to be careful.

A story breaks about the rape of a teenage girl in Ohio, and even as evidence mounts against the rapists, people blame the victim. The rapists are found guilty, and the media wrings its hands about how those poor boys’ lives are ruined. They don’t say very much about the victim, except to point out, at every opportunity, that she was drunk.

Don’t wear a skirt that’s too short. Don’t get too drunk. Don’t let your drink out of your sight. Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t be a slut. (And don’t forget, you don’t get to determine what it means to be a slut. Everyone else does.) Don’t be out there looking to have sex, because everyone knows if you want to have sex with someone, that’s just as good as wanting to have sex with anyone.

Don’t get raped.

Because if you get raped, it was obviously your fault.

Because if we can believe that, we can believe that it won’t happen to us.

Because if we can believe that, we don’t have to do anything about this problem. We don’t have to try to do better.

Because we don’t have a problem, do we?

Some other good reading on this and related topics:

No, dude, it’s not bigotry

F*ck everything, let’s talk about rape

Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak) weighs in

UPDATE: this link is on the Laurie Halse Anderson post, but I wanted to add it here, too.

Donate to RAINN

Ookla the Mok vs. Evil

So, as many of you probably know, I’m married to half of the nerd-rock band Ookla the Mok. And as you may have heard by now, Ookla has a brand new CD out! It’s called vs. Evil, and it’s chock full of songs about supervillains and mad scientists. The totally fantabulous cover art is by Art Baltazar, creator of (among other things) Tiny Titans.

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Click here for complete lyrics/liner notes.

The entire album is super fun–the lyrics are funny, and the tunes cover a wide range of musical styles, including hip hop, power pop, and 80s hair metal. I’d listen to Ookla even if I wasn’t married to one of them. 😉

If you’re interested, but not sure if you want to buy, you can listen first on facebook or on soundcloud. Here’s a little taste for you:

[I can’t make the soundcloud widget work, so just click here.]

More Ookla: 

Ookla’s official website

Ookla on Facebook

Reviews:

Debbie Ohi

Word of the Nerd

Buy:

CD Baby :: Amazon :: iTunes

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.

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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)

Inside the burst bubble

In November 2011, after the whole Penn State scandal blew up, I wrote a little essay on my blog titled “We are…heartbroken.” Shortly after that, I was contacted by a professor at PSU who was interested in putting together a book and wanted to know if my essay could be included. I said yes, and waited.

There were some ups and downs in the process, but the final decision was to fund the project using indiegogo, with all proceeds beyond the cost of the book itself to be donated to RAINN. Here’s the link to the project page, where you can read more of the details:

Notes from Inside a Burst Bubble: Penn Staters on the Penn State Scandal

I am proud to be a part of this project. If you are so inclined, please help me spread the word.

Gifted

So, these two items were purchased (in part) with Christmas money/gift cards:

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iPad Mini (purple case from Amazon, but I’ve also ordered this one in blue.) I love it…it’s the perfect size. And as an added bonus, I’ll stop trying to win one now.

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bodhran (which I now need to, um, learn how to play…)

How was your Christmas? :)