Filk Friday: The Queen's March (SCA filk)

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Queen's March comes the SCA Kingdom of CAID about heading off to the war field for CAID's Queen. It's neither my former nor my current Kingdom, but I thought it a fun in-character piece. It's sung by Dame Eilidh Swann Stralachlan (Cat Ellen), recorded March 21, 2009. She has several other songs as well. Her Caidan Kids Song is an adorable teaching song for learning the name stands for.

I miss Mondays, and a not-so-random filk

Sunday, July 25, 2010

First the filk. This is a great one for the SF-loving parent. A what-not-to-do song to sing to the children, SF style. Though if your kids are the sort to take suggestions easily, even from warnings, you may wish to pass. ;D Here is Never Set the Cat On Fire by Frank Hayes. My favorite verse is the last one.

The missing Mondays part. I should mention that Monday is more like my Saturday, since the park I work at for the summer is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, aside from holidays. But since I put in so many hours, I haven't had time to write up Monday posts. That's why I took Mondays off for the summer. However, I've missed writing the extra posts. With filk on Fridays, that just leaves Wednesdays for everything else. Sigh. I may or may not add Mondays back in early, but I will definitely be back on my M-W-F schedule in September, though Labor Day will still be off.

Filk Friday: SCA filk from Joe Bethancourt

Friday, July 23, 2010

Since this week is about the SCA, and also a nod to the Pennsic Wars, I thought I'd share these gems I found with you.

I'll See Your Six
is sung by Joe Bethancourt at Pennsic in 1999. I knew his name from some of the filk I already have but hadn't realized he was also a member of the SCA. Fun things you discover sometimes.

This song is about a lady walking the streets on NYC at night and running into someone who wanted to rob her and got more than he bargained for. The final verses made me literally laugh out loud. I'll have to look up more about the song now. It sounds like it may have been about an actual person and event. Either way, the song made a well-told story.

Another funny one from Joe sung at the same event. I hadn't meant to add another, but then I made the mistake of clicking related-videos and found myself chuckling over this spoof song called Mongol Doodle Dandy. (I think you can guess its original song.) Short and hilarious!

The Middle Ages are here again!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Clang! Shning! Whist!

The sounds of combat doth approach. On July 30th the Pennsic Wars shall begin, where ye noble fighters and archers shall commence in tourneys and other competitions to bring glory back to their Kingdoms. And bring on the next remove!

History has been selectively recreated by members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, otherwise known as the SCA. From their homepage: "The SCA is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Our 'Known World' consists of 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, various classes & workshops, and more." It's good fun for the whole family, from the little kids to the elderly, and a valuable writing resource.

One of the first sites I'd been directed to when I started hanging out with a nearby chapter, called a Shire, had been the newcomers' page. It is still just as handy for quick reference to get you started or just to know a little bit more about "those strange folk who beat on each other with weapons in funny clothes." Another useful page is the overview, also linked on the newcomers' page, describing what the SCA is about, the group's history, its structure, and more. If you would like to discover your closest Shire, check out How to Find Your Local SCA Group.

I didn't hang out with my closest group when I started. Some of my friends in another town had been attending meetings at a group halfway between us. My husband and I got curious and decided to check them out. It wasn't until several meetings later that we discovered that there was a closer one, but we were happy with the group we'd joined. They didn't care if we were officially members; instead, they freely made us welcome and answered all our questions to the best of their abilities. Now, I live far from my home Shire, having moved far enough away that I'm not even in the same Kingdom. But the members of my new Shire are also friendly. Though it's disconcerting to think of Pennsic and know that I'm not on the same side anymore, even though I've been reassured that I can consider myself still of my former Shire and Kingdom. Glory to Middle Kingdom!

Since I want to get this post out before I head to work, I have to wrap up now (booo), but if you have any questions about my experiences with the SCA, feel free to ask. I will write more about them next week and answer any questions (that I can). And I will also be sharing some of my favorite resource links for things such sewing and costuming.

Filk Friday: Monster's Lullaby

Friday, July 16, 2010

Here's an oldie but goodie. "Monster's Lullaby" by Meg Davis is off the cassette tape Quarks and Quests. It's a whimsical piece about finding a little monster in the garden. I hope you find the song as cute as I do. It's one kids might enjoy, too.

Random post on family history

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I have post topics aplenty of books I've recently read and loved, Renn Faire, larping, and more, but I'm running behind already this morning, not getting up until almost 9:00. I was up way too late last night ogling what may be my personal jackpot in family history on I found someone's family tree with loooooooots of entries on it that I am 99.9999% sure is part of my tree. In fact I think it's my oldest uncle as the home entry. I sent a message through Ancestry asking for verification, but even if I don't get a response soon, I'll likely see my uncle this Sunday at the family picnic. I was planning to bug everybody for info then anyway, even planning to visit my other grandparents on Monday for their information as best as they can remember.

Family history can be so much fun. You can learn strange and bizarre facts, connect with people you hadn't known or known well, and find information you can use as story fodder. Ancestry is a subscription site, but it is well worth it when doing research, especially when you are getting started and can't afford the travel time to go traipsing off to various courthouses and having to deal with kid(s) bored out of their minds.

Learning about people's lives is my favorite part of history. Or rather the only part of history I like. I always struggled with remembering names and dates. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that history became interesting. My teacher that year was amazing. She brought events to life with just her voice. Wonder if she ever considered storytelling, because she would have made a great bard, not that I ever heard her sing. She's also the one who sparked my interest in personal history, since she made a huge chunk of our final quarter grade dependent on a major family history project. We had the whole year to work on it. (My sophomore year history teacher did a smaller project on personal history but he didn't really care about the family part, only what was happening in America each year since we were born. Some neat stuff, but I didn't care about what prices were on houses or who was President. Just the family part.)

Even if you think history is boring, there is so much fascinating stuff if you know where to look. You may have been looking at it from the wrong angle. The anthropology and ethnology side of history is more interesting to me than the dry dates and plain facts. Here's the wiki article on anthropology with an overview of some of the related fields. You might find an aspect that appeals to you. History can be your one of your best writing resources, whether you are writing fantasy, science fiction, or any other genre. Have fun!

Filk Friday: Sun and Shadow

Friday, July 9, 2010

For the Valdemar setting, Mercedes Lackey created the lifebond, a rare type of relationship where two souls become linked. It is not something that occurs by willpower, and no amount of magic can make it happen. Though many yearn for such a joining, the reality of it is much different than they realize. Poets and Bards make it sound like the epitomy of love, when it is about compatibility. Love nurtures the lifebond, but it is not part of the bond itself. Emotions resonate along the bond, so if one person is unhappy, the other will know it. It doesn't prevent misunderstandings and arguments, but the pair is forced to deal with issues promptly or suffer from reflected turmoil.

As one character in Winds of Fury notes about when a lifebond will happen, " is likelier that someone with an extremely powerful Gift of some kind and a tendency to deep depression will be lifebonded than someone who is not so burdened and hag-ridden. That's so the Gifted-and-suicidal half has someone outside of himself to keep him stable and give him external focus. But--all we know is that while it's rare, it isn't something to be yearned after."

Lifebonds are a frequent theme in the series. They occur at a higher rate among Heralds than the general populace. The Arrows trilogy has a couple pairings. Mage Winds and Mage Storms trilogies have characters yearning and/or actively seeking a pairing. Characters discuss how and when they occur. And there are legends about famous pairings.

One of the most famous lifebondings in Valdemaran lore is the story of Lythe Shadowdancer and Rothas Sunsinger. Fate rested heavily on these two lovers. Twilight was the only time they could be together. Lackey has specifically stated she has no plans to write their story in full, preferring to leave in legend, but there are a few songs about them, a whole CD now, called Sun and Shadow. But before that, I was tantalized by the mention of them in the Arrows books and a couple songs in the accompanying Arrows music collection, plus one in the Last Herald Mage music collection.

After they met, they faced many trials to gather the magic they needed to break the curses keeping them apart. But once they finally had the power, they faced the hardest trial yet: use the power for themselves or spend it to save two others. With pain in their hearts, they selflessly chose to free Windrider and Darshae from the clutches of a Dark magician. This act led to them being Chosen as Heralds, which later led to their eventual freedom and joy.

Here are the songs of their meeting and of the plight of Windrider and Darshae. The heartache grips me every time. Kristoph Klover (as Herald Kris) sings of their meeting, while Heather Alexander sings of their sacrifice.

If you enjoy these songs, I recommend picking up the CD.

What science fiction and fantasy means to me: pt 2

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Two weeks ago, I talked about my intro into reading and fantasy in particular. Today is a bit about my intro into science fiction.

It took me longer to get interested in SF. Science itself was a natural topic; my dad worked for the Forest Service as a land surveyor. We took many trips as a family to State parks and National forests. Lakes, rivers, streams, forests, and caves were all part of my mental canvas, but they lent themselves more toward fantasy.

Space didn't interest me that much as a child. My first memory of thinking about space was the preparations for the Challenger and then watching its explosion on tv during school. I wrote about that memory in a comment on The Sharp Angle several months ago. It was fun following along with the reports until the day of the tragedy. I remember the shock and grief, but once that faded, my interest in space faded with it.

It was my dad a couple years later who got me actively intrigued by science fiction. He didn't believe in us kids hanging around our bedrooms all Saturday, even if we weren't sleeping. Saturdays were for doing things around the house and for family time. So if we weren't up by 10 am, we were gonna be. He would put on a record album (yep, good ole vinyl) and crank the volume up. One of his favorite ones to use for that was Flash Gordon. All of a sudden we would hear this booming from the speakers:

Emperor: Nigel, I'm bored (at least that's the name it sounded like)
[rumble, rumble, rumble]
Adviser: Hahaha Ha Hahaha Most effective Your Majesty. We'll destroy this...Earth.
Emperor: Nigel. I like to play with things awhile. Before annihilation. Ha ha ha ha
[beat, beat, beat, beat, beat, beat, beat, beat]
Flash! Ahh ahh!

So my ascent into a love of SF began with an evil villain's plans and laughter. It was a couple years before I finally saw the movie, but by then I was hooked enough that 80's cheesiness didn't faze me. Granted I was a child of the 80's, but it was still a cheesy movie. Didn't matter.

The next SF story to grab me was Star Wars. I don't remember when I first saw some of it. What I do remember is visiting my grandparents for a week, just my sister and I when I was 11 or 12. (I'd have to find the mini album they made of our trip to find out exactly when.) We visited a local movie rental shop, and they asked us what we wanted to rent. I asked for SW. They were dubious about my interest, but since I insisted I liked it, they rented it anyway. I was enchanted. The following Christmas, they bought me the 3 VHS box set. (I still have it, along with the boxed set of the enhanced rerelease.)

I've discussed before how I got hooked into ST. Much resistance, and finally capitulation. Even with some excellent individual episodes, it's still not my favorite series.

Even with these stories, I didn't start reading much SF. Well, not that I realized at first. Anne McCaffrey was my first SF author with her Pern series. I just didn't realize for years that it fell under SF rather than fantasy. I nibbled at my mom's Andre Norton collection, sampled her ST collection, and tried out various books at her urging. Some were interesting but most failed to entice me for rereading.

College was when my passion for SF took another surge. I discovered Babylon 5 during its fifth season. Even more than ST, B5 took on social topics and presented them in the backdrop of another possible version of our future. Mankind was not the top of the pecking order by a long shot. In fact, out of foolish and panicky actions during a first encounter, mankind nearly was wiped out by the Minbari, a much more advanced race. The Babylon station was built to prevent such a near tragedy from occurring again. B5 took on work strikes, raiders, corrupt politicians, religious clashes, and more, all in a believable manner. Characters changed: some died, some left, some became powerful, some were transformed. And that was just among the primary cast. I'll talk more about this amazing show in a later post.

Science fiction brought space back into my thoughts. What we could do if we really did venture out into space. What might happen. Who we might meet. The what-ifs are both frightening and intoxicating. I did my senior thesis on the biological concerns for exploring and settling Mars, because I'd become enamored by space. I read articles, studied pictures, pulled my way through my required physics classes by sheer determination (and a fantabulous professor). I was space crazy.

Some of that shiny enthusiasm has worn down a bit, but I still look for SF stories that reach the heart what really matters: what people will do, whether they are human or alien. I may not be ready to hop aboard a spaceship anytime soon, but I do hold a dream for mankind's future. And outer space is a part of that.

What do you find fascinating about science fiction?

Filk Friday: Johnny Came Home Headless

Friday, July 2, 2010

Arrogant Worms is one of my favorite groups. I could easily spend the next several weeks posting YouTube vids of their songs (I won't). Mike McCormick, Chris Patterson, and Trevor Strong make a dynamic trio of Canadian humor, with songs like The Mountie Song, Proud to Be a Canadian, Carrot Juice Is Murder, and I Am Cow.

They've performed at many notable places such as Disney, NYC Central Park, and Parliament Hill, had numerous television appearances in Canada, the U.S., and Australia, and had a number of radio appearances on shows in North America and worldwide including Dr. Demento and BBC. They've even been honored with the Peter Gzowski Award for their efforts in promoting literacy in Canada. For more about this group, check out their website. It's just as humorous as their music. You really should read at least their About page with their individual bios and group history. If you get a chance to catch one of their shows, you will be in for a treat. Their touring schedule is on the website.

Today's feature is Johnny Came Home Headless, a comic song about a guy who lost his head. The puns are groaners, but I think you'll be chuckling anyway. Let me know what you think. And if you've been lucky enough to hear Arrogant Worms perform live, I'd love to hear about it.