an arc of flowers

An Arc of Flowers

Playing lots of catch-up today with office things, so have a picture of some flowers that I took a couple of days ago. I don’t even know what these are called, but they’re pretty common garden trees here. ^_^

how precise is too precise

I’ve been sitting here this evening timing-editing a bassline to within an inch of its life and I’m thinking, ‘do I really need to do this? Really?’

And I don’t honestly know. I mean, sure, it needs a little tightening up, and there are a few less-than-perfect notes here and there, but it sounded fine when I recorded it and even when I hit playback.

I’m not fond, to be honest, of doing these kinds of edits – even if I’m pretty good at them – I get really bored and look for other things to do. But I can’t seem to let it go.

There’s absolutely such a thing as too much precision, but you don’t usually find that in rhythm, and bass is essentially for rhythm in most songs, even if I play a lot more notes on my basslines than most, and…

…yeah. I’m just sitting here watching the wheels in my head go ’round and round, I guess.

I’m really good at this. I just need to be really fast at this, too, so I don’t start flailing around and looking for other things to do.

Norwescon and nwcMUSIC 2014, Saturday and Sunday

Now, where were we? Oh yes, on Saturday, where I finally got to go to a panel I wasn’t actually on – a Japanese SF panel hosted pretty much by Haikasoru. I’ve known Nick Mamatas online for years and years and years, and now we’ve finally met in person! Along with Toh EnJoe! Who signed his book for me, since he was right there. How often does that happen in North America? Approximately never. And yet:

The Self-Reference Engine

So that’s extremely cool. But Saturday was also the day for me to start doing panels, most notably the two-hour Cascadia’s Got Talent! event I kept talking about beforehand.

Cascadia’s Got a Trophy! The robots dance. Scott outdid himself.

Cascadia’s Got a Gong!

Cascadia’s Got Judges! Nicole Dieker, Lex Lingo, Shubzilla, and C0splay

Being out of exile really showed. I estimate we doubled our usual attendance, setting a clear record. We had eight entrants – another record – counting…

Okay, so, this takes a lot of explanation to get all of it. But. The original Star Trek had episode called The Naked Time. It involved this infection that made people act out in various ways: Sulu became a French fencer, things like that. In this episode, Ensign Riley decided he was Captain, took over engineering, and sang – repeatedly, and very badly – “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen,” over shipwide intercom.

While looking for prizes for our little show, I came across a Mitch Miller album (“PARTY!” edition). Almost none of you will remember Mitch Miller, or Sing Along with Mitch!, which was a TV show featuring simple chorus-driven arrangements of songs, to which people would song along.

On this album were several songs, including, yes… “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen.” I’m not sure what a maudlin dirge like “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” is doing on a “PARTY!” album of any sort whatsoever, because if this is what you’re singing at your party, you’re not only doing party wrong, your party is outright broken.

But it was there, and the result (in mp3 form) is perhaps predictable. My grand plan was to get Starfleet-uniformed fans to come up on stage and start the same song over and over again, getting gonged off sooner each time. I only got one volunteer, but he played it really well. After he was driven from the stage, he stormed it again later in the show for another go, which was hilarious.

Amazingly and confusingly, the eighth contestant, Paul Not My Housemate Paul, came up and did a lovely hammer dulcimer performance, thus demonstrating that apparently what our silly comedy based more or less on drunkenness and the moral equivalent of fart jokes really needed was a moment of quiet beauty… and unironically walked off with the trophy.

I don’t even know how to process that. But the show was a riot all around, except for the people who were trying to be good, and they actually were. And that in and of itself was plenty entertaining.

Aside from the trophy, we gave away a couple of LPs: The Singing Legislator, which was filled with some old-time church-organ pain warbled to by a one-term special-election California state representative, and Wayne Newton Sings Hit Songs from 1964 which must’ve been recorded when he was, I don’t know, twelve? Because his performance made the Bee Gees sound like The Three Tenors. When I put on the first track, Minion Paul thought I had the turntable set to the wrong speed, and I thought it was a Peggy Lee duet. But no, that’s just Wayne. Plus, we gave away our traditional terrible, terrible all-expenses-paid trip to Kenmore (consisting of two Metro bus passes), and a polka CD with a spectacularly hideous cover.

Really, everyone wins. Or loses. Depending on your point of view.

“Find Your Instrument” followed immediately; it ran pretty much the same as last year, only with less cacophony, because we had a bigger room. I think it was the only panel that didn’t feel more crowded than the previous year despite being in a room three times larger – but we all kept busy, that’s for certain. I gave Irish Bouzouki demonstrations to probably a dozen people, and got about six or seven of them to actually try playing.

Then time for concerts! We didn’t do Electric Night lighting for Death*Star, not because we don’t care, but because I was already too damn busy and it was a lot of work for a single act.

C0splay and Bill Beats


Funny thing; C0splay told me they have two entirely different fandoms at Norwescon, the group that comes to their official show, and then the group that comes to their room party. They’re pretty widely different in age and demographics, and there’s very little overlap. I need to get these people mixing a bit, somehow or other. Like everyone else, they had a very good crowd, but their party audience not showing for their official show (and vice-versa) actually explains a few things.

Jen and I were working the Twitter feed pretty hard. I started doing 20-minutes-before tweets, with photos like this:

Miss Clicks! Miss Clicks! Three minutes to curtain, Miss Clicks!

Then start-of-show and 10-minutes-in tweets (“The Doubleclicks RIGHT NOW! Evergreen 1&2!”) and each wave seemed to catch a few more people. I’d use live shots for the promos:

The Doubleclicks

At the start of the show, The Doubleclicks weren’t quite to standing-room-only. But after the second tweet, a bunch more people came in, and they went SRO:

Their Crowd (enlarge)

We were also promoting the livestream a lot. A bunch of us had sent out mail to all our fan lists and subscribers and followers, and we got audiences in the mid-60s – enough to say “dozens,” I think – online, in addition to the people in the room.

K at his Kart

The Video Board (enlarge)

Energy in the room just kept ramping up. I’m not a bad MC (in the sense of being a presenter, not in the sense of nerdcore/rap) and I had a lot of fun whipping up the crowd more every opportunity I could. I don’t have any photos of myself, of course, but I wore the supervillain stagewear that I use for my own shows, MCing as Solarbird, the Lightbringer. I found a tiny picture on a snippet of video, but it’s pretty tiny.

The Doubleclicks were followed by Molly Lewis, of course. She did a smashing job, as usual, with Vixy & Tony again as her Completely Different Band backup band.

Soundchecking the Tenor Uke

Molly Lewis (with guest Vixy of Vixy & Tony, A Completely Different Band)

Molly was another case where I got to show off MCing – when I told that crowd to blow the roof off for Molly Lewis, they damn well did. Goddamn that was loud, and awesome.

I also took the time to take some Ambush Selfies. I should take more of these. It’s kind of like, “I’mma gonna photobomb my own selfies and so are you and you can’t stop either of us.” That might be a little high concept, but that’s how I roll.



There would’ve been another one but I had the wrong camera active on my phone somehow. I have a hilarious picture of Startled Kaede Tinney that I will not post because rude, but yeah. XD

Saturday night after the shows, I did my usual party swing. Sadly, I couldn’t find Torrey, and she coudln’t find me, so we failed to hook up and be Norwescon Drinking Buddies this year! Sadness. But there’s always next year, I suppose. She actually kind of missed an extra good time, because … okay, I’m gonna brag here, because it was that kind of year.

Everybody kept buying me drinks in response to nwcMUSIC this year. Everybody. I kept a lid on it and didn’t get too blasted, but people were buying the supervillain more alcohol everywhere I went.

These people are brave. XD

Sunday! Sunday. I scheduled myself for three panels in a row on Sunday. This was … actually, I was pretty okay. I’d drank a lot, but I’d also spaced it and drank a lot of water. Home Recording I and II stayed pretty well on track, and we had pretty decent turnout for both. Vixy & Tony both had things to say – particularly Tony, it’s basically “Tony’s Panel I and II.” But Lex Lingo had some really nice thoughts to drop in, and I’ve had some contact from people at the panel post-convention asking follow-up questions, which I’m happy to answer. The handout I distributed at the first panel is here, and I have a whole series of posts on building your own home studio here.

Shubzilla took a photo from the audience:

(photo via Shubilla’s tumblr)

Between parts I and II, though, I’d scheduled this year’s one experimental panel: Cypher vs. Housefilk: FIGHT!. Basically, I threw some nerdcore and chiptunes and filk people all on a panel – with me in the middle) to talk about their home music get-togethers. I didn’t honestly know what would happen, but it turns out Jonny Nero is a really good panel moderator. We had a really relevant discussion on similarities and differences between the two. There was a lot of note-taking to transplant ideas, too, which is great.

Then in the Q&A period, someone asked Shubzilla if she would demonstrate some freestyle, and she of course totally did since she’s awesome that way. And afterwards, Jonny Nero asked our filker on the panel if she’d do something from filk, but she wasn’t actually a performer, so I jumped in and said I could do the one filk song I do in my shows sometimes. (It’s my version of Frank Hayes’s The S-100 Bus, with his lyrics and my music. You can download my version for free.)

But going into the bridge, where I usually make a joke about the solo I haven’t written yet, I start the chords, look at Shub, and say “take it.”

And she did. Out of nowhere, we got one of those moments of pure awesomeness that cannot be predicted but will just happen. Jonny Nero grabbed his phone and started shooting video, I shifted my already-not-filky-really rhythm just a little bit more to match her rap pattern and we do like, I don’t even know. 12 bars? 16 bars? It felt like a lot. And then I took it back and stuck the finish and it was amazing.

I still can’t believe that panel actually worked. Over on the Facebook Norwescon page, one person listed it as their favourite moment of the entire convention. If I could make this alchemy happen at will, I really would rule the world, and everyone would love it.

Then it was time for teardown and loadout. I missed the first part of Onions and Roses, but apparently several people made very nice comments about nwcMUSIC this year, which is always incredibly gratifying. One of the groups doing so tracked me down later and gave me what they called a Challenge Coin. They described it as a military tradition; Wikipedia seems to know about it. I am, of course, honoured:

Challenge Coin

As far as most of the concom was concerned, Norwescon ended then, at 6pm. But nwcMUSIC had other ideas. K had decided to restream all the shows starting at noon on Sunday, and he also streamed a new interview with Molly that didn’t even start until 10pm. We saw a whole new crop of viewers on the channel; the peak viewership I saw there was mid-60s, but I wasn’t watching it the whole time.

Basically, the whole damn thing was so over the top this year we just didn’t want to stop, so Norwescon wasn’t over until nwcMUSIC said it was over.

Which in this case meant 10:30 Sunday night. \n/

So, yeah! I don’t know how we top this. I really don’t, at least, not yet. I had a bunch of things in my five-year plan, like livestreaming and full-event CD sales. As of now, year four, we’ve hit all of them.

I guess it’s time for stretch goals. I have some ideas. And it’s not that everything is perfect, either. One of the nuts I haven’t been able to crack is open filk. We don’t have very big ones. I’d like to fix that. Norwescon has managed large ones in the past, so it’s doable – tho’ that was before Conflikt was in town. Angi Long and I are talking about this in comments on yesterday’s post, if you’re curious. There are many constraints I have to work with here, but drop in and add your thoughts.

PS: If you like any of the pictures, most have higher resolution versions available on my Flickr photostream. Enjoy.

nwcMUSIC Thursday and Friday

So, yeah! I said yesterday this year was epic; let’s talk about that a little.

This is the first year our daytime workshops are out of exile. We’ve been up in the tower, in Salon, a fine room with a lovely view but which is an elevator ride to somewhere nothing else is happening. Set to Discoverability Factor Zero, Mr. Wesley, and engage. Now we’re back downstairs, with the concerts.

This is also the first year we announced livestreaming of concerts in advance. It was on short notice, because the technical details kept changing, but it was in advance. K built an uplink out of four parallel cellular devices – three LTE, one 4G – multiplexed into a single high-bandwidth channel spread across three entirely separate cellular networks. This was almost as good as a wired connection.


This was also the first Electric Night. For a the first three years of nwcMUSIC at Norwescon, Thursday night was Experimental. This year, it became Electric, and we brought in atmospheric room lighting. Not a lot; just enough to paint the walls with colour. Mike Citrak – who I forgot to thank yesterday, I’m sorry Michael! – also lent us some of his dance lights, which definitely helped. The Thursday bands loved it; we’ll need to do more of that.

First up was 9K1, featuring Shubzilla, Lex Lingo, and Bill Beats, who you probably know from Death*Star. Nerdcooooooooooooore:

9k1 Rocks the House
(They have a new video, by the way)

One of the funniest things from my point of view the entire convention was that – okay, opening ceremonies ran late, and we can’t start concerts ’till they’re done. Partly, because it’s not smart, some of them come over to us; second, because respect. So it’s totally cool.

But I still had a crowd to keep entertained and energised, so I decided to screech them in, which is a thing we do at nwcMUSIC, stolen – in idea form, anyway – from screeching in on George Street in St. John’s.

Only since we can’t serve whiskey, we do it with a literal screech.

Now, 9K1 had already set a record for largest draw on a Thursday, and while Thursday is not exactly a huge day, they did really well. And most of their fans showed up on time.

And I had all of them screech at the top of their lungs, all at once, with Opening Ceremonies right across the hall, and with all doors open.

This was hilarious. Unintentionally, of course. I was just trying to keep my crowd in the room. I didn’t even know that I’d made an entire ceremony full of pros jump out of their chairs until a good five minutes later.

It was a good Screech. :D

Dancing to 9k1

We’d also yanked a bunch of chairs from stage front during setup, as a dance floor. Turns out: bonus points.

Jonny Nero Action Hero was our only chiptunes act this year. To be honest, chiptunes aren’t that popular at Norwescon, which is clearly a failing we’ll have to correct. But he drew a pretty respectable crowd too, and noticing that, we were starting to realise something was up.

He’s also pretty good on guitar, and later, I’d find out, very good on panels.

Jonny Nero Action Hero

Oh, see the little light down on the bottom of the picture? There’re two of them. They’re my stupid little stage lights and I love them.

I’d bought these colour-changing LED bulbs; I’d planned to put them in reflectors aimed at walls. Turned out they were too dim. I’d thought to put them in paper cones so we’d have colour-changing paper cones (critically different! to ordinary paper cones), but instead I stuck them on some snake-neck clamp lights clamped to the scaffolding. Once curled up in front of the stage? Suddenly they really kind of worked. Almost non-ironically worked, even. They’re like the idea of footlights even if you don’t really have footlights.

Klopfenpop rounded out the evening to another pretty good crowd – very good, again, for late on Thursday. He didn’t bring his guitar, but he brought his game:


I wasn’t actually on any panels either on Thursday or Friday, beyond my MC duties at all concerts. So I got a look at the art show and dealer’s room in the afternoon, and I have to say, both really interested me this year. I didn’t have the chance to give the art show the time it deserved, but whoever had the animatronic sculptures in back? Well done, artist, well done. Those were cool.

I bought more things in the dealer’s room than usual, because there were more kinds of things than usual. Good show all around.

Next up: The Big Show! With The Heather Dale Band. This is our daytime “event” show – we don’t do it every year – in Grand Ballroom 3. Grand 3 is a huge but freakish room where wifi will fail from device to device in the same room, so you can just guess what that did to our wireless. Still, we got a good capture, and were streaming live most of the show. And the rebroadcast after was perfect.

This is what John’s soundboard looks like in the dark. I’m pretty sure I can blow up Alderaan from here:

Seghers Sound(board)

You can push buttons on it or its touchscreen or a remote tablet and all the actual, physical sliders will move around to different presets. It’s pretty damn awesome.

Grand 3 has the best, most traditional stage, which makes for interesting photography opportunities:

The Best Picture I Got With Ben In It
(Stop hiding in the dark, Ben, it makes you hard to shoot.
I MEAN WITH A CAMERA. I have IR, hiding doesn’t do a damn thing against my weaponry.)

Heather Dale and Betsy Tinney

All Alone in the Dark
(if you ignore the rest of the band, the audience, Babylon 5, and the Internet)

I started doing a Scooter impersonation before this show. “Ms. Dale! Ms. Dale! Three minutes to curtain, Ms. Dale!” This, like many muppet things, became a running gag. (See also: “Ms. Clicks! Ms. Clicks! Three minutes to curtain, Ms. Clicks!” on Saturday.)

After that, it was all load-and-move back up to the Evergreens for Friday Filkfest’s main set of shows. I really have to hand it to John and Jen’s volunteer crew this year, they had that kit wrapped up and shifted like magic.

Friday is Friday Filkfest because filk is the oldest form of geekmusic, going back to the 1950s, and deserves its place in the sun. Besides, I like their DIY/participatory culture attitude. They’re punk in that way – and in perhaps no other way, but that’s a pretty damn good way.

The word “filk” came from a typo in an article – the author meant to write “science-fiction folk music” and that I is awfully close to that O on the keyboard, and hey, who has time to proofread, am I write? – and they ran with it en masse and instantly. And while I couldn’t attend it, I was told by multiple people that the What the Frak is Filk? / Filk 101 panel went over well, with good attendance – and a lot of new people.

A lot of new people. A pattern is emerging, isn’t it?

Oh hey, say Hello to the Future, Friday night’s leadoff.

Hello, the Future!

Hello, the Future! is Nicole Dieker’s band, and she is the only person in her band, but she was certainly not the only person in that room. Friday’s a busy Norwescon night, too, with a lot going on, but she drew ‘em in.

Up next: Vixy & Tony. I’d written up a concert description for them consisting entirely of the word “Chicken” repeated many times – yes, I stole the joke, I don’t care – with the phrase, “we can put anything we want here, we know you’ll come” two-thirds of the way through.

I was, of course, correct. But that’s not exactly an amazing mystical prediction, it’s just plain obvious.

Vixy & Tony


Vixy & Tony & Sunnie & (barely) Betsy…
(…who already got a good picture…)

The funny part is, I’d originally scheduled them as the closer/headline act, with Seanan McGuire (who was also an official Norwescon Guest of Honour) in front of them. But they asked me to switch the two, expecting all of Seanan’s many fans as a writer to show up, and then flood back out as soon as she was off stage. I understand that, and of course agreed, but think their fears were unwarranted.

The Crowd on Friday, or the Stage Right Half of It, Anyway

Which isn’t to say that Seanan didn’t draw quite the crowd herself – she did, almost as many as Vixy & Tony. She’s had several albums out and has won several awards from the Filk community, and people were really thrilled to see her do a show.

Seanan McGuire, with a Totally Different Band

…and having a Totally Different Band made up of Totally Different Vixy & Tony – as they said on stage at the time – probably didn’t hurt anything either.

This was the night the livestream started to pick up good audience, too. The count went from “several” to “tens.” On Saturday, it went up to “dozens…”

…but I’m getting ahead of myself, and this is long enough already. The final part – Part Three, with lots more pictures! – will appear tomorrow.

that will be difficult to top

This was a triumph; I’m making a note here: huge success.

nwcMUSIC 2014 at Norwescon 37 is over. Norwescon as a whole ended at 5pm, at the end of Closing Ceremonies; thanks to the wonder of streaming concert video and interviews, nwcMUSIC kept the torch burning until 10:30pm. (To wit: Norwescon is not over until nwcMUSIC says it’s over! XD )

I’m home, I’m pretty darned wiped out, and I want to do it again tomorrow.

I’m kind of high on the endorphin rush right now, to be honest. It’s awesome. I don’t even know where to start. Concerts and workshops and panels all set records, and I don’t even know how to even.

So I’ll give it a day, to settle, and today, I’ll thank my staff. Thanks to John Seghers and Jen Kilmer, whose sound support these last years have made this project possible, and to their volunteer staff, who made all the hauling and setup and takedown so much easier.

nwcMUSIC Sound Control

Thanks to Anna, the Water Fairy, our one-elf staff support. Thanks to K Wiley whose Fan Supported Network livestreams of our concert programme were epic and brought nwcMUSIC shows to hundreds of people who couldn’t’ve seen it otherwise.

K at work

Thanks to Kathleen Troyer, who was ghosting me this year so someone other than me knows how this works, and who took notes for me at meetings I couldn’t attend thanks to eye surgery. Thanks to Doug and Pat Booze, who let our performers put their CDs in their art show print shop, letting us finally have full-time CD sales for our musicians, and Amy Gembala at Norwescon Dealers, who put two and two together to make that connection.

And, of course, thanks to all of our music pros – performing and not – who put in their time and effort and excitement and enthusiasm to make this event come off so well this year. And to everyone who came to shows, who came to panels, who watched via the internet. Thank you.

The Doubleclicks at SRO

But right now, I need to go to bed. G’night!

eta: And bonus points to Michael Citrak, who I accidentally left out before, for lighting assistance! Thanks, Mike!


nwcMUSIC videographer K is rebroadcasting/restreaming ALL THE CONCERTS today! All of them! If you had trouble with any element of the feeds before, now is your second chance to see it all. And it was a hell of a show, too, you have no idea. Here’s K:

Let your friends, fans, and folk know that we’re re-streaming the Norwescon concerts at today.

You can watch all the shows in HD, and if you watch it on the youtube
channel, you’ll be able to use the comment / chat system to interact
with fans and the other musicians as they watch the concerts.

Here’s the schedule:

Noon: 9k1 (nerdcore)
1pm: Jonny Nero Action Hero (electronica/chiptunes)
2pm: Klopfenpop (nerdcore)
3pm: The Heather Dale Band (Arthurian celtic)
4pm: Hello, the Future! (geekfolk)
4:45pm: Vixy & Tony (filk)
5:59pm: Seanan McGuire (filk)
7:05pm: Death*Star (nerdcore)
8pm: The Doubleclicks (geekfolk)
9pm: Molly Lewis (geekfolk)
10pm: Molly Lewis interview (sponsored by Tony Fabris)

Hey, Norwescon attendees!

If you’re looking for the Kitting Out Cheap handout from the Home Recording panels, here y’go. If you have no idea what I’m on about: it’s five pages of information and tips on building a small home recording studio. I’ll do/I’ll have done panel on it on Sunday. Grab a copy if you like, it’s useful even without the panel it goes with.

If you’re looking for the concert livestreaming schedule and details, you’re in the right place! Lots and lots of concerts will be livestreamed at this link for your enjoyment! If you are on-site, don’t watch the stream – go up to Evergreen 1&2 and watch live! But if you can’t attend, here’s where you can go to watch. And throw K a few bucks, eh?

That’s all for now. I may and may not post here during the events, but I’ll certainly be active on Twitter.

life with supervillainy: the enermat

Solarbird pokes at Scrabble tiles. I can spell ENERMAT.
Solarbird says, “Which sounds like it should be a word. From, idk, SF. In the 40s.”
GrendelFish says, “Sounds like part of the Cyberman lifecycle”
Solarbird says, “Or what they’d consider a cute corner cafe, really.”
GrendelFish . o O ( You see, Tegan, if a Cyberman doesn’t return to the Enermat at least once a week, their power source becomes dangerously unstable. )
Solarbird giggles at GrendelFish.
Solarbird says, “So the first warning of a Cyberman invasion isn’t the stompy, but the sudden appearance of Enermat franchise stories on every street corner.”
GrendelFish grins.
Solarbird says, “Coffee and battery recharge.”
Solarbird . o O ( and of course ‘Enermat’ in Cyberman language is actually pronounced ‘starbucks’ )
GrendelFish says, “it’s like how classic Daleks had to wait for civilizations to invent the equivalent of the ADA before invading.”
Solarbird [to GrendelFish]: Which means it’s amazing they ever invaded England at
GrendelFish [to Solarbird]: Why do you think they had to keep doing it?
Solarbird says, “oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh”

Oh, I almost forgot

I almost forgot! You like show posters, right? Of course you do. We have three. Here’s a picture of one, and they’re all downloadable for your posting-at-your-workplace pleasure.

Electric Night

PDFs: Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Remember, most or maybe even all of these will be livestreamed free, so you can watch even if you can’t attend in person. I can understand that. So much supervillainy in one place can be intimidating. We like it that way.

off to the lava flow

Off to the lava flow to get my hair re-energised before the festival. It’ll take a while, the Creatures haven’t been disciplined lately, and you know how that goes. Have fun while I’m gone, kids.

Here, have a lovely flower. I can’t take it with me, it’d burn up before I even got there, so it’s for you. ^_^

Sakura Extra

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