Category Archives: Filk

Robin J. Nakkula ATEN’T DEAD YET!!!!!




Yesterday, one of my filk friends told me that the Columbus filker Robin Nakkula had passed away. Of your goodness, please pray for her soul.

Robin was a scientist by trade, and was a gifted lab technician and lab manager. She did medical and biological research at Ohio State and at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She is credited on a huge number of scientific papers. Other papers credited her internally for recordkeeping, “setting the standard for reproducible experiments,” “keeping the lab from being shut down,” “making the histones,” and generally keeping younger students on the straight and narrow.

She also had at least one published story, “State Road,” in Mike Resnick’s 1993 anthology Christmas Ghosts, which was co-written with her husband.

She loved lab rats, and had a long term personal project to breed natural colorations back into lab rat strains without losing their intelligence or other favorable qualities of white lab rats. She also trained and made clean, gentle pets of many generations of these lab rats in her own home.

She also participated in the Central Ohio group for Irish culture, the Shamrock Club of Columbus, and in her local neighborhood group.

She had a sharp sense of humor, sometimes mild and sometimes cutting. Many of her songs were about the lighter side of science, particularly biology. But she also tended to look out for younger filkers and help them, and she had a particular kind concern for people experiencing depression or alienation from fandom. I know she contacted me when she was worried about me, and I wish I could have done more for her. I saw her check in at NASFiC and sent her a shoutout, but we did not get to talk.

She was married for twenty-five years to Alan Dormire; their anniversary was just a few weeks back.

St. Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of rats, pray for her!

And may He Whose eye is on the sparrow’s fall be gentle with the soul of our friend.

“The Ethology Song (R and K Selective)”

Songs on Captain Wayne’s Mad Music Show: “The Android”, “Biotech Fantasy”, “Something Lingers in the Fridge”, and “You Never Seem to Listen to Me”.

I was always fond of her song “Asteroid Ore”, a spacemining ballad to the tune of “Red Iron Ore.” I gather that she wrote a Zenna Henderson song that I never got to hear.


UPDATE: Now the bad news. Naomi Pardue, who wrote “My Thousand Closest Friends” and many other songs, did pass away, very suddenly. And that is a real kick in the pants, because she was a very sweet person. Also she was a librarian, which is practically holy.

We also lost Bob Laurent, the founder of Wail Songs, Interfilk, and Consonance, but he had been fighting brain cancer for a year.

So please pray for their souls instead. I know a lot of filkers will have remembered them on Rosh Hashana. And please remember them on All Souls Day when you’re trying for that partial or plenary indulgence. We are here to help one another and serve the Lord.

The current episode of FilkCast is dedicated to Naomi Pardue and Bob Laurent.


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“Goldtongue”: A Patristic Filk.

Copied from my Maria Lectrix podcast blog, and inspired by today’s patristic Thanksgiving selection by St. John Chrysostom. “Chrysostom” is a nickname. It means “gold tongue”. (In English, we tend to talk of someone being silvertongued, instead.) Here’s a very short resume of his career.

To the tune of “Goldfinger”:

Goldto-ongue –
He’s the man, the man with the honeyed words –
Not moneyed words.
His old tongue
Beckon you to break from your chains of sin,
But will he win?

Golden words he will pour in your ear,
But what’s true has to move past your fear.
For the Golden Horn’s lord knows his hyssop
Is a kiss-up’s death
From Bishop

Goldto-ongue –
Little men beware of his heart of gold –
Their hearts grown cold.

They don’t know real gold.
Lonely gold.
His word’s gold.
He speaks only gold.
Lonely gold.
His love’s gold!

One of my secret ambitions when starting the podcast was to write filks about the stuff I was reading, or the authors. I think this is just about the first time I’ve managed it.


Filed under Filk, Humor

Hymn for St. Albert the Great

The first verse is a loose translation of the Dominicans’ morning prayer antiphon for the feast of St. Albert the Great. Steal from the best!

Lyrics: Maureen S. O’Brien, 6/19-20/09
Tune: “At That First Eucharist Before He Died” (UNDE ET MEMORES)

By the austerity of life he led,
By the devotion in the prayers he said,
By love of Dominic’s great brotherhood,
And overflowing teaching, wise and good,
St. Albert glorified the Lord on high;
O Lord, through our work, too, be glorified.

In all his study of new books and old
And all of nature that he could behold,
And in his seeking all that God had made,
And in his speaking, calm and unafraid,
St. Albert glorified the Lord on high;
O Lord, through our work, too, be glorified.

He walked all Europe and defended truth,
He taught Aquinas in his silent youth.
Then when his own brain failed, he humbly
Lived with his weakness in obscurity.
St. Albert glorified the Lord on high;
O Lord, through our work, too, be glorified.

For faithfulness throughout the lives we lead,
And for devotion in each prayer and deed,
For love and will to help all those in need,
St. Albert, pray for us, we humbly plead.
St. Albert glorified the Lord on high;
O Lord, through our work, too, be glorified.

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GaFilk Streaming Audio

So you didn’t make it down to Georgia? Listen to the filk convention, live!

Schedule of Events:

Friday, 11 January 2007

19:00 – 19:45 Opening Ceremonies
20:00 – 20:45 “My Filk” Panel Game
21:00 – 21:45 Concom Choice Concert, Tom Smith [Tom primarily sings humorous songs. USELESS to try to describe him any more than that.]

Saturday, 12 January 2008

12:00 – 12:45 Peter Beagle [As a fantasy writer, high fantasy with a twist. As a singer/songwriter, eclectic.]
13:00 – 13:45 Brian Richardson
14:00 – 14:45 Brobdingnagian Bards [Renfaire Celtic filk pop. Excellent w. marketing, btw.]
15:00 – 16:45 2×10 Slots [Various people who signed up on the sheet sing ten sets’ worth of two song sets.]
20:30 – 21:15 Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff [Rock parodies, served up with spirit. Maya’s also a fantasy writer.]
21:30 – 22:45 Interfilk Auction

Sunday, 13 January 2008

12:00 – 14:15  Ecumenifilk   [Spiritual song service. Probably not all monotheistic.]
14:30 – 15:15  Closing Ceremonies

All times are in East Coast US time (GMT + 5) and may be fannishly approximate

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Advent Teaching Song

Advent Teaching Song
Lyrics and Music: Maureen O’Brien

Advent’s when we celebrate
That Our Lord is coming.
Advent’s when we celebrate
That Our Lord is coming.
Once before to earth God came
And a little boy became;
Next time it won’t be the same
But Our Lord is coming!

Advent is a time to wait
And time to get ready.
Advent is a time to wait
And time to get ready.
Clean our houses, decorate,
Clean our hearts of sin and hate,
Ask forgiveness, set things straight,
It’s time to get ready.

So when Our Lord comes again,
We’ll be glad to see Him.
So when Our Lord comes again,
We’ll be glad to see Him
Judging all, women and men;
Making new, earth and heaven.
Since we don’t know where and when,
Each day, hope to see Him.

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The Super Secret Can Now Be Revealed!

Gafilk in Atlanta, GA is possibly the most fun filk music convention in the world. (And the competition’s fierce, I’m telling ya!) It’s held shortly after New Year’s Day, which helps. But one of its most fun features is the Super Secret Guest, who is not announced until the beginning of December.

This year, the Super Secret Guest is…

Peter S. Beagle. Author of The Last Unicorn. Also of more really good novels and stories than you can shake a stick at. Besides that, he’s a singer, guitarist, and songwriter. And yes, at the convention, he will perform as well as do the normal boring stuff like signings, so you want to be there for that.

Moreover, Gafilk is a relatively small convention. (Only about 300-400 people.)  This is not some Dragoncon hordes-of-people, acres-of-hotels situation. So if you live in the southern US and have ever wanted to go to a filk convention (or meet Peter Beagle while hanging out with other fantasy and sf fans, for that matter), I highly recommend Gafilk. (January 11-13, 2008.)


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Elizabethan/Jacobean Discovery!

Probably everybody else knows this but me, but it’s a discovery for me. 🙂

As you may know, I’m reading The Worm Ouroboros over on my audiobook podcast, Maria Lectrix. Eddison’s novel includes a good many songs and poems, most of which are well-known Elizabethan or Jacobean poems. Since they’re sung in the text, I’ve been finding tunes for them that fit the same meter and are from the same general period.

This week I’m reading Chapter 9, which includes Herrick’s poem “The hag is astride, this night for to ride, the Devil and she together”. So I started looking around and found a MIDI of one of the dance tunes Playford used: “Devil’s Nag”. But it was not just a match — it was a perfect match! I’m pretty sure that said tune was written for Herrick’s lyrics, or vice versa! And “Devil’s Hag” and “Devil’s Nag” are pretty darned close….

So now I know a new old Halloween song! 🙂

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The Poets and Poetry of Munster (1st series)

Apparently, Mr. Sigerson (below) also published a later anthology by this name and in this series, which is how I found this one. I’m glad I found it. The Poets and Poetry of Munster, collected by John O’Daly, is a wonderful book full of late medieval and later poetry, as translated by the great Clarence Mangan. This includes both a singable translation and music for a good many famous sean-nos songs.  Also, this book does provide us with both original and translation side-by-side. (The Irish is in the old font style, alas for readability. Still, you must admit it’s pretty.) A very useful book.

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Oh Happy Feastday!

Now, I’ve always liked St. Ephrem excessively, as he is one of the earliest and greatest singer/songwriter saints and theologians, and he just kicks butt in so many literary ways. But now, I’ve had one of those Lady Murasaki moments, when you suddenly appreciate somebody so much more.

Via Happy Catholic, from Christ in the Desert Monastery:

Best known as a poet and exegete, many of Ephrem’s writings and hymns are in existence today and are still being studied and translated. He wrote many discourses and poems.

One of his techniques was to take pagan festival songs and change the wording to prove the falsity of pagan beliefs and teach the Christian truths. In his time most people were illiterate and he was the first to use hymns to teach Christianity and to refute many of the heresies prevalent in the 4th century.

St. Ephrem, patron saint of filkers, pray for us!

(I guess I now know why I wrote this filk adaptation of an Ephrem hymn a few years back.)

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Warning: May Cause Brain Meltdown

“Black Monk” apparently does his rapping in Latin. From part of the Requiem Mass. But being a rap video, there are also (not liturgical) dancers, of course….

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Apparently, there are several groups running around in monk robes and trying to imitate Gregorian chant. Not just crazed early music groups, either; that weird Gregorian-Masters of Chant group that “chants” pop songs is apparently not just a joke, but a fairly famous group in Europe.

Not everybody wants to run off and join the circus, apparently; some of them want to run off and join the Benedictines.

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Biology Filks at the University of Chicago Press

I’m sure other people noted this humor page years ago, but the filk musical My Fair XX (just three scenes, alas) and the other songs on the page are worth a perusal.

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Roman Filks!

For all of you Latin lovers and legionary-wannabes, click on over and sing some Legio XX Songs! These aren’t from Roman reenactors, btw, but rather from Roman LARPers.

Possibly the best song is a rewrite of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General”:

My family’s patrician, we’re descended from a deity
With pietas and dignitas, but never spontaneity
We clap politely at the games when gladiators spear their foes
And when we write a speech it always sounds like one of Cicero’s

Fittingly, we also have math/linguistics/filk guy Kevin Wald’s oldie-but-goodie:

I am the very model of a heroine barbarian;
Through Herculean efforts, I’ve become humanitarian.
I ride throughout the hinterland — at least that’s what they call it in
Those sissy towns like Athens (I, myself, am Amphipolitan).
I travel with a poet who is perky and parthenian
And scribbles her hexameters in Linear Mycenean

However, this otherwise excellent site features an unaccountable absence of Kipling’s quite wonderful marching song from Puck of Pook’s Hill, “Rimini”:

And I’ve tramped Britain, and I’ve tramped Gaul,
And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall
As white as the neck of Lalage—
(As cold as the heart of Lalage!)
And I’ve lost Britain, and I’ve lost Gaul,
And I’ve lost Rome and, worst of all,
I’ve lost Lalage!

But Suetonius is the guy who kindly preserved real Legion marching songs for us. Read his Lives of the Twelve Caesars for that and many other fun scurrilous tabloid details.

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Song: “Please”

I was thinking this morning about how I just can’t write filk music anymore, much less listen to it, and this song showed up! It just goes to show that you shouldn’t bitch too loud where the Lord can hear you.

Or maybe you should. 🙂

The truth is that songs where you sing the blues are in some ways subverting your true sorrow, simply by setting it apart from you and putting it into some kind of order.

The song

Lyrics and Music: Maureen S. O’Brien, 8/11/06

Please don’t make me listen to
the music that you play.
Don’t you know it hurts me so
much more than I can say?
I hear your voice — its dancing
just reminds me I am lame.
Your-r song is so entrancing
that my envy turns to shame.

Please don’t ask me for a song.
I have no heart to sing.
I have no heart at all; I have
a sad and cringing thing.
I cannot bear to hear myself, I
cannot bear to feel.
The people that I thought I knew —
their world was never real.

I cannot listen to CDs
No point downloading MP3s
Nothing with lyrics I can understand
I can’t enjoy bar bands at all
Can’t even go to concert halls
I wish you’d just cut off my hand

Please don’t make me listen to
the music that you play,
Whether it’s about next door or
stars of far away.
The memory’s too much for me of
many happy days
Of singing my own music, and
of listening while you play.



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Why Sarah Brightman Changed Careers

Apparently, she used to be in some kind of popular English disco band called Hot Gossip. Here’s the video for one of their hits: a little ditty called “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper”.

Scary, eh?

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