Monthly Archives: October 2005

St. Simon the Zealot

Today we remember St. Jude Thaddaeus, who is known for being the saint of the impossible. But St. Simon was an even more lost cause — a Zealot. Either he was the kind of Zealot determined to prove he was more pious than thou, or he was the sort of Zealot freedom-fighter that isn’t realllll far off from terrorism. (Their Latin name was Sicarius, daggerman, because the assassins among them would carry daggers under their clothes, slip up to their victim, and stab him the midst of a crowd, then slip away again.) Yep, it wasn’t glamorous Judas who was into all that. He was mainstream. Simon was the moonbat. (And him and Matthew together in the same band… ouch.)

If Simon’s the same guy who was second bishop of Jerusalem, then he was also one of Our Lord’s cousins. And he lived long enough to have to flee Jerusalem for Pella on the strength of Jesus’ prophecy, and then watch as Jerusalem was slowly starved into submission — a time of horror you can read in Josephus. It wasn’t a happy thing for a former moonbat like Simon to have to watch. If Jesus hadn’t called him, he would have died with them.

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Weekend Report

Well, after all the sound and fury, I had a really good time at OVFF. I think all that letting off a little steam beforehand helped, so thank you, dear readers, for your patience! But it seems that everybody had a better time than they’d expected. Maybe I’m not the only one who’s been a bit stressed by recent conventions. Almost everybody seemed in the mood to hang out and chat about anything but politics, to which I say YAY!

As expected, my song didn’t win for “Best Space Opera Song”. How to describe the equivalent? Hmm. How’s about being up against Carmen, Norma, Madame Butterfly, and Tosca? Not exactly a big surprise not to win, is what I’m saying. Heck, I didn’t vote for me.

(I really couldn’t, since it’s not really a “space opera song”. Okay, so it takes place in space and sounds sorta kinda like a lied, but that’s not the same thing…. Also, given the competition….)

All the same, I enjoyed the chance to be broadcast on “filk radio” and to go to the banquet. I am deeply grateful for the support of all the voters, and very humbled, too.

The final jam was, as always, nifty. I was also visited by the sudden realization that all cowboy songs could easily be turned into surfer songs simply by the application of the correct riffs. Others concurred, and the name “Emperor Norton and His Imperial Surf Rangers” was invented. Spiked helmets and baggies.

The only dim spot on the weekend was that Greyhound didn’t get me home in time to go to Mass. Sigh. Honestly, I need a car. If I had a car, I could just stay up until dawn and then go to Mass. Also, car seats are a lot wider than bus seats. Of course, first I have to get my license. And learn to drive on the highway without killing anyone.

All nice ideas. Too bad I still have no hand-eye coordination to speak of.

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Ranty Ranty Rant Rant

Don’t worry, folks. As my poor long-suffering friend Joy there could tell you, I am all about the rants and the frustration. I could go on for hours and hours; that’s why I decided to write these things up on a blog instead. For some reason, though, I usually don’t go off on rants on the blog itself. (I tend to save that for unsuspecting comment boxes.) This was an exception, probably caused by stress.

So I apologize for going off like that, especially since the vast majority of my readers probably don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about. I haven’t talked about filk much on this blog at all.

Over on my other blog, I assure you that your regularly scheduled audiobooks will continue while I’m incommunicado.

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Is the Glass Half-Filked or Half-Empty?

This Friday, my regularly scheduled blogging will be interrupted so that I can attend the world’s premier filk convention, OVFF (the Ohio Valley Filk Festival). I will mingle with my peers from around the world, hearing hundreds of songs and hanging out with old friends. And on Saturday night, I will go to the banquet and find out whether my song “Barrayaran Roses”, nominated by people spanning the globe, has won a Pegasus Award for Best Space Opera Song.

I should be in hog heaven. But I’m not.

It’s not that I’m nervous about the award. I literally don’t care whether I win. I didn’t expect to be nominated; I felt very honored when I was. That kind recognition is indeed more than I ever wanted.

The problem is that I just don’t like filk much anymore.

I’m supposed to be working on an album. I’ve been supposed to working on it for almost five years now, and there was another project in the works for two years before that. But I don’t really believe in most of my songs anymore. If I’d been able to record them quickly and be done with it, I would gladly have signed up for another two or three quick albums, and been flooded with inspiration for new songs. But quite frankly, I cannot stand the hurry-up-and-wait process of recording only two or three songs in a whole weekend, but doing those songs perfectly. They’re never perfect, you see. They can’t be. I’m always going to hear what’s wrong with them and be unhappy with my performance, and trying to perfect the inherently imperfect is enough to make me cut my throat.

Getting songs done quickly keeps the momentum up, and prevents me from focusing on just how horrible my voice and songwriting really is. But speed is not desired. So instead, I get to hurt my voice with repeated takes, and confuse myself with headphones, and watch my blood sugar drop while feeling ever worse about my music. I also get to get engaged outside of recording in discussions and situations that distress me, but which I have to be polite about; while I’m sure my tactlessness is trying to all concerned. (I assure you, the longer this drags on, the less bearable I’m going to get. I come from a long line of bitchy, ornery people who don’t bide their time gladly.)

I know everyone involved means well, but the truth is that I no longer want anything to do with recording. I want to die, or kill myself, or kill everyone else, or I want to get the dang album off my back and onto a shelf, but I don’t want to be doing it. I want to be done already.

(It should probably be pointed out that I write songs all at once, and clean my place all at once, and write twenty-page papers in one night with one draft and one final copy; and I record audiobook chapters in a single session. I do not do this part-to-whole crud. That is just wrong. You can go back and make corrections once you’re all done.)

At choir, they say music hits me like caffeine. I’m in a manic state. I’m obscenely cheerful and horribly jokey. This is how I used to be at filk circles. I don’t feel that way now.

It’s not the music, per se. I still believe in the artistic value of being able to share any kind of song, and of exploring the nerdy topics which mainstream songwriters never touch. I feel confident that there are wonderful new songs and tunes and lyrics being written. I’m certain that the rising filk generation is a good deal better at performance than mine. We now attract more professional musicians to join our ranks as well as well-meaning amateurs like myself. The market is such that filkers can actually make money on albums. We even had an article on filk published in Wired in September, which was reported from Conchord (at which I was Interfilk guest in 2001) and mentioned both OVFF and a special guest filker who plays guitar for Courtney Love and dates a writer for Rolling Stone.

And I didn’t hear about it until today, which tells you just how far away I’ve floated from filk circles. (In both senses.) The only filkers I hear from regularly are my best friend Joy (well, duh) and Avram Gruner, who posts often in the comment boxes at Get Religion. Most filkers and members of fandom don’t like blogs, for some reason. They’re too attached to their Livejournals, the very design of which I dislike even to look at, much less read. I try to keep up with them, but the ugly appearance soon encourages me to break off. (So, though I don’t mind if other filkers read this, it’s pretty darned unlikely. I’m off their radar as much as they’re off mine.)

What’s worse, I don’t like much of the sf and fantasy being published today. I was afraid I’d fallen out of love with the genre entirely, until I started reading public domain stories on my other blog. I’m not particularly thrilled with the TV and movies, either, and even the things I like (like Serenity) don’t make me want to sing about them. But most of all, I don’t believe in fandom these days: the skankiness, the politics, the suicidally stupid behavior, the unconcern with truth and reason as opposed to logic-chopping, the lack of true empathy for anyone if individual wants conflict with others’ needs, and the cliquey elitism of people who have no reason to feel elite. Somewhere along the way, fandom decided it had become the cool kids, and didn’t have to care about those who got trampled. It’s not a road I choose to follow.

I’ll admit that I did enjoy Millennicon back in March. I’ll also admit that I’ve enjoyed getting back into gaming this year, and going to Origins. But my gaming group is remarkably free of the kind of people who annoy me, and so was Origins. The most fun I had at Marcon was outside the convention, I’m sorry to say; the rest of the con I don’t even remember.

What I do remember, every morning when I wake up and my feet ache, every time when my muscles tense, is the miserable time I had during most of Worldcon 2004. Not only did I get talked to nastily because of my politics, not only did I get to hear folks I knew getting insulted, not only did I have a generally unfun time, but I also gave myself plantar fascitis for life. (That’s pretty much overwritten all the fun that I did have.) I will grant you that this was mostly my fault (bad shoes, obsessive walking and sightseeing to escape the con). But it’s still a constant reminder that large chunks of fandom are not nice or fun to be with, and that a good many of them were long-time personal acquaintances from whom I expected better.

But that’s the thing. I expected better. Maybe I shouldn’t have. Maybe I’m being too hard on them, and too whiny about my their non-achievement of my stupid standards. Maybe they never were better, and I was blinded by my regard for people who didn’t deserve any. Maybe I should be more blase when people break rules of civilized conduct or morality; after all, it’s entirely likely that they never were taught them in the first place. But all the songs said we were essentially one — family, community, likeminded people with a single pure heart and a gaze resolutely fixed on the stars above.

Well. That sure worked out.

So I have a little trouble going back to join in the songs, because they have been proved to be lies by the singers themselves. This is just what you’d expect from a fallen world, of course. But even a fallen world is more bearable if people realize when they’ve done wrong, and try to make things right. That’s not something that’s in fashion now, either among Mundanes or in fandom. People keep the bit between their teeth as they head for the edge of the cliff.

I find no enjoyment in watching them go.

So I’m going to OVFF this weekend, to feast and to be feted (to a modest extent). And I wish like anything that I were staying home this weekend, and if I had a car I would have been seriously tempted to come back and cantor on Sunday morning. It’s three days until OVFF, the secular highlight of my year in days gone by. There are thousands of places I would rather be.

Oh, well. Maybe I can hang out in downtown Columbus and have fun in the afternoon, before I have to go drag myself in and paste a smile on my face. There are some wonderful people whom I do want to see, and I’m sure there will be fun moments. I certainly intend to fulfill my obligations to those nice people who wrote in my song. But even with the good folks, I just don’t fit in anymore; and I dearly long to gafiate. I’ve done it in spirit; and how my body longs to follow! There is nothing more confining than staying in a hobby because you have to.

Still, maybe I’ll have my faith and my love renewed this year.

But since the movie last year didn’t work out, maybe I should bring a deck of cards, so I can play solitaire. Or crossword puzzles. Crossword puzzles are good.

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The fight is over, the victory won….

I’m one of the folks who’ve been following the saga of Kobayashi Maru’s brother. His fight is over now.

As you probably know from my other blog, I’ve been reading St. Catherine of Siena lately.

“…the peace of the just man�s death is greater or less according to the perfection of his soul… Wherefore when they come to the point of death, they die peacefully, because they have vanquished their enemies during their life. The world cannot accuse such a man, because he saw through its deceptions…the virtue of a just and perfect man transcends nature, extinguishing his natural fear and overcoming it with…desire of arriving at his last end… his conscience remains in peace, for during his life his conscience kept a good guard, warning him when enemies were coming to attack the city of his soul, like a watch-dog which stands at the door…

“The just man does not turn his head to admire his past virtues, because he neither can nor will hope in his own virtues, but only in the Blood in which he has found mercy; and as he lived in the memory of that Blood, so in death he is inebriated and drowned in the same…that soul, who already is beginning to taste eternal life… with the eye of the intellect illuminated by the pupil of the holy faith… sees Me, the Infinite and Eternal Good…

“Wherefore, opening the arms of hope and seizing Him with the hands of love, [the soul] seems to enter into His possession before she actually does so, in the way which I have narrated to you in another place. Passing suddenly, drowned in the Blood, by the narrow door of the Word she reaches Me, the Sea Pacific. For Sea and Door are united together, I and the Truth, My only-begotten Son, being one and the same thing.

“What joy such a soul receives who sees herself so sweetly arrived at this pass, for in Truth she tastes the happiness of the angels! This joy is received by all those who pass in this sweet manner….”

Please pray for Kobayashi Maru, his family, and all their friends, and for the soul of this just man whom we have come to love, too.

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Ecu-fun-ical

In case nobody has pointed you to it (hey, I came in late, too!), you owe it to yourself to read some AnglicaNoir. Great blogger in-jokes and Leibowitzing abound.

Start with The Adventures of Chris Johnson, Anglican Investigator.

Then it’s on to the terrifying saga of The Hound of the Inghamvilles.

Finally, we find ourselves attending a little Reunion. (Clip on “Chapter One” to get to the beginning of the story.)

Enjoy!

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Hollywood, Meet a Grownup.

Today, fire destroyed Aardman’s warehouse containing priceless props and memories of the company.

Wallace and Gromit’s creator, Nick Park, said the earthquake in South Asia helped put the loss into perspective.

“Even though it is a precious and nostalgic collection and valuable to the company, in light of other tragedies, today isn’t a big deal,” he said.

Thank you for reminding us that not all artists are whiners.

In other news, not everything was lost, because not everything was in the warehouse.

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