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Dec. 4th, 2014

treble, songworm

What you mean "we" feel the weight of the wheel?

When the author of the line

But we who feel the weight of the wheel when winter falls over our world

writes

winter eventually does come, even to Arizona; our past few weeks of 70-degree days and 45-degree nights have taken their toll

people in, say, Buffalo, could be forgiven for thinking "What you mean 'we'?"
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Nov. 16th, 2014

treble, songworm

Rocky Horror

I just rented and watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show...Collapse )
I just thought of something I have to share, even though it's too long to be used in full as an audience participation line:




When I said "we really did it," I referred only to Betty and myself. You see, you are to remain celibate. In theory, anyway.

Nov. 1st, 2014

treble, songworm

Space songs

At OVFF this year I finally got a chance to tell Ada Palmer how her song "Somebody Will" really inspires me, in the way that songs like "Starfire" and "A Toast for Unknown Heroes" inspired me to take a job at NASA Ames in the 1980's.(More about inspirational space songs)Collapse )

On another note, for anyone who wants to check out some Found Filk: ...Collapse ) "Bake Sale for NASA".

Sep. 12th, 2014

treble, songworm

My latest attempt to introduce NASA people to filk music about space

I should have learned better the last time I tried to play filk music for JSC people (that's the NASA center in Houston) that filk music just isn't for most people, even when it's about what they do. But like the Music Appreciation Friday of the group I was working with in 2000, it was a perfect chance and I had to try. I always wanted to introduce JSC people to "A Toast for Unknown Heroes". Last time that wasn't online and I settled for the less approachable "Hope Eyrie". These days, ALL songs are online, if only bootlegged. As long as you slap at least a title card on it, there's this free home movie site that came to be used for everything from cat videos to White House briefings to be beheadings to sales pitches to indie films.

This time I was there to support some software for a simulated human mission http://www.nasa.gov/content/give-me-some-space/
(HERA 4) to an asteroid, and the pretend MCC wanted to play a song when they let the pretend crew egress at the end if the week. I played the first verse. The team lead said "I don't think they'll get it." Others we're proposing non-theme songs like "I Feel Good", so I tried a compromise: the main 2001 theme, "Thus Spake Zarathustra". The team lead liked that one, as did the crew. ("Unknown Heroes" really honors MCC and not crew anyway, but it was all I could think of after a week of supporting two shifts. It wasn't until this morning that I realized the appropriate choice for egress music would have been "The Green Hills of Earth"

P.S.  In hindsight, I should have suggested "Unreal Estate" or "An Asteroid Named Rest Stop", since they mention asteroids.

treble, songworm

We're outracing Voyager

I learned something that boggled by Earthbound intuitions yesterday. How fast is Voyager 1 going? Pretty fast, you'd think, given that it's on an escape trajectory from the solar system. And yet the document I found on the )public) web showed that last March, it was getting one light-second closer to us every day. Even though it's never coming back. How can that be? It's slowing down, sure, under the distant Sin's gravity, since it hasn't fired a rocket in decades. That's what escape velocity MEANS, as long as it's slowing down slowly enough. But if it's still headed out of the solar system....

Then I realized: it wasn't getting closer to us so much as Ed we're getting closer to it. Voyager is traveling slower than us. By "us" I mean every single human everywhere, since no human has ever left the Earth-moon system. (Although hopefully somebody will someday, and we've been running sims.)

Google "voyager velocity" and "Earth orbital velocity" and you'll see we're moving much faster than Voyager 1. Just in a circle. Last March we must have been headed in roughly the same direction, and closed the gap slightly. Only by a fraction of a percent, but still. It's so ingrained in human thinking (intuition?) that the ground is standing still that it's hard to remember we're racing around our sun at 30 meters per second and spinning around at 15 degrees per hour.

Jul. 3rd, 2014

treble, songworm

Sparrow Hill Road (and Supernatural)

I enjoyed Sparrow Hill RoadRead more...Collapse )

One thing I particularly enjoyed was that the ghosts follow a consistent set of rules.  I also like that about the ghosts in Supernatural,Read more...Collapse )

On the other hand, something both Sparrow Hill Road and Supernatural didn't do so wellRead more...Collapse )

Jun. 8th, 2014

treble, songworm

Questioning the interchangeability of parts

Recently, I've started going to plays (at various venues that are pleasant to bike to), and have probably seen more these past couple of years than my entire life before.  Something struck me about the production I saw on Friday of Sondheim's "Company" on the Los Altos stage:  like several others plays, they decided to modernize it in a somewhat odd way.  I hesitate to write this, because it sort of goes against the progressive party line and is bound to push some people's buttons, but I have to be honest.

Long review comparing several works...Collapse )

Jun. 7th, 2014

treble, songworm

An obvious connection

I'm watching Game of Thrones Season 2, "The Prince of Winterfell", and just came to this line of dialog:


How did you go from reciting Valyrian poetry to sawing off men's feet?


The most plausible path would be, "Well, first I went from reciting Valaryan poetry to from reciting Vogon poetry. Soon they were begging me to saw their feet off."
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Jun. 6th, 2014

treble, songworm

Filk songwriting examples like "Colorado"

For anyone who saw my reply to batyatoon's comment on my last post and wondered what horror song I was referring to, it was "Dear Gina" (lyrics, video; it's on Thirteen).  Lines like "I went to Sarah's funeral on Sunday" — ostensibly because it's in a letter to Gina, who already knows what happened to Sarah.

"Dear Gina" also happens to be a song that I used to comment, a few years ago, on how the same story can be told as horror or comedy:  I used it for a mashup with a certain funny song that tells what could have been a horror story but for its tune and cleverly loaded wording, and retold that as a horror story.  Very much in line with Batya's point about "Colorado".

Also, it belatedly occurs to me I unconsciously copied exactly the comedic technique from "Colorado" in at least one of my own recent parodies, with lines like "I was sucking on sap when that werewolf attacked me" and "For the termite that bit me was radioactive" and "that stake pierced my heart just before I could eat it."

May. 29th, 2014

treble, songworm

A nice example of "Show, Don't Tell" in songwriting

There's a very standard piece of advice for writing, summarized as "Show, don't tell." I always admire stories that do a good job of applying that maxim (and conversely). Songs, too.

A particularly nice special case of that is a certain song I've occasionally heard covered at filk sings over the years (most recently at Baycon last weekend). It describes a series of notable experiences (notable for being horrible) very offhandedly. Some of that offhandedness is in the tone of voice, which is largely the tune, but mostly it's accomplished with grammar: using the definite article "the", and relegating key events to corners of the sentences -- to subordinate clauses, or whatever the technical term is. A more straightforward way of wording the story it tells would be something like



We narrowly escaped an avalanche. That same day, we spotted a yeti, which attacked us and kidnapped Blanche.
[...Then we were snowed in for days…]
We had a baby with us. She eventually died of starvation. We resorted to eating her.



Read more...Collapse )

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