CONvergence 2016: Because Pirates!

This one happened due to me and my constant feelings about Christmas carols.  In December of 2014, I got fed up with listening to Christmas carols WAY earlier than most years.

Now, understand, I have lots of reasons for not being fond of them.  First, I’m not actually Christian.  So “yay Jesus” doesn’t really do it for me.  Second, there is a weird competition going on between people who record Christmas carols to see how can sing them the slooooooooooooooooooooowest.  No, seriously.  Everybody has heard that version of “White Christmas” where you could go out for a taco and come back and they’re not even through the whole first verse yet.  Third, recordings of Christmas carols are just…bland.  They all have the same soaring string part in the background, the sleigh-bell jingle bits, the choir trying too hard in the background.  And, of course, fourth — you can’t walk through 2 stores without hearing them.

So, yeah.  That year I was DONE with the carols.  And over the course of about 4 days I wrote 6 or 7 parodies which we then promptly performed live and put on YouTube.  You know what?  It made me feel better.

All the other Christmas carol parodies I wrote are specifically related to the holiday season, as in the one where the kitchen catches on fire in “Winter Wonderland” or the power fails in “Do You Hear What I Hear?”  This was the only one I wrote about a non-holiday subject and I wrote it about pirates BECAUSE I COULD, DAMMIT!

Also?  Anne Bonny really was a very cool, badass sister!

 

Funny side-note: when Sarah and I talk about this song, we call it “Beacuase Pirates!”  This comes from the epic and still-funny video below.  Fair warning — once you add “beacuase” to your vocabulary, the word “because” becomes a lot more difficult to get right!

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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CONvergence 2016: 2015 in Review

Talk about a song that goes too fast!  Eesh this one takes it out of me.  I’m always glad Sarah sings the melody with me just so there’s somebody to bite out all the syllables if I get mixed up.

We did drop half a verse for this performance from the original.  The Orlando night club shooting had just happened, and so a joke about mass shootings was very, very out of place.

I’ll be honest — we originally intended to use the same song and rewrite the lyrics for each year because it would be fun…and then 2016 ended in a really rough place and it wasn’t fun anymore.  I don’t know if we’ll ever do another one, though maybe if we have a better year with more things to laugh about, we’d consider it.  It’s always going to be sitting there if we want it.

My favorite jokes that I crammed in at the end are the “Horse named SpellCheckFail” and “the dress was blue slash gold.”  That last line always makes people stop and think before they laugh.  It’s hilarious.  Everybody’s nodding along, having a good time, and then I drop that and they all THINK before reacting.  I’m not sure why?  Maybe because the argument about that stupid dress that was blue AND gold but not blue AND gold is still going on inside their heads?  It was a bit of a brain-bender for us all so…

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

 

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CONvergence 2016: The Nerd Song (You Could Also Call Me an Enthusiast)

This song’s lyrics were written by a friend of ours in 2013 — we challenged him to write a series of limericks about nerdy topics and then we put them to music.  We’ve tweaked them slightly in the years since, but for the most part, this is still the writing work of Steven Henry.

This is one of those songs that is very fun to sing, but sometimes doesn’t get the laugh we hope all our funny songs will garner from our audience.  It kinda depends on the group.  Also, this is the kind of song that if Sarah starts it a touch too fast, I’m going to be out of breath by the time we’re done.  There are a LOT of words to cram into not a whole lot of beats!

Going back and forth with Sarah is always fun, though, and it was our first time performing at CONvergence, so it seemed the right time to add it to the set!

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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CONvergence 2016: Trial by Fire

In advance of CONvergence this year, I actually managed to put all of our CVG performance from the previous year on YouTube, and it seems to offer a nice opportunity to talk about various songs and what they mean and where they originated.  So I’m going to go through the performance each week for a while (excluding “Ode to Fanfiction” just because I’ve posted about it before) and give you the author’s notes about the songs we perform.

“Trial by Fire” was actually written in October 2002.  Sarah wrote the vast majority of it sitting on my dorm room bed while I did homework in my sophomore year of college (she was a junior).  The song went through a few relatively tiny revisions over the years, mostly because I’m really picky.  We’d be singing it and I’d stop mid-word and look up at her and say, “I think that line/word/phrase is dumb.  Can we do better?” and she would sigh and then we’d fix it.  But, really, 80% of this song came out of Sarah’s brain.

That fall, she and I spent a lot of time taking walks out in the woods behind our college, particularly late at night.  We were both working through a lot of emotional growth at the time, and so many nights the dorms just felt closed and airless.  When we were out there with the wind and cold and stars and sometimes thunderstorms because why the hell not, it was like the world stood still and gave us time to breathe.  Gave us time to remember what was real and what wasn’t.  It also gave us time to talk, to lean on one another without wondering who was listening to what through the thin rooms of my single or whether or not a roommate would return to Sarah’s triple.

My favorite line of the whole song is one I added a year later: “Never thought that I’d fit my skin.”  Because that’s the transformation I needed to make at that time.  I needed to figure out who I was and then learn to be that person.  I had been a person defined by everyone else, it seemed, a person who existed only in relation to others.  I think it’s that way for most kids growing up.  You’re “so-and-so’s kid” or “so-and-so’s sibling” and what YOU are is still nebulous and uncertain.  And I learned that I didn’t want to be a person who made even one choice about myself based on anyone but me.  I learned that I didn’t give the slightest of damns for what other people thought or felt or feared or cared.  I learned that the person inside my skin was mine and mine alone, and I needed to embrace her.  Weaknesses and failures alike with strengths and successes.  I needed to be the person screaming from inside, or die trying.  So I did.

The bit about “the wolf and the tiger” is a nod to how we and our whole group of friends claimed an animal avatar for ourselves, kinda like how people pick their patronus as a meme (though this was before Harry Potter really hit full cultural saturation).  We all claimed two animals — one real and one fantasy/mythological.  Sarah has always been a wolf, and I am and always have been a tiger.

Anyway, for two years we pretty much went out at least once a week on nights it wasn’t -40 degrees (thanks Minnesota!) and just let ourselves run free — metaphysically.  Those walks, those discussions, those moments in the quiet dark, they helped us with the tough times in college and to step forward to become the people we were choosing to be.  We faced the dark, faced the fear, and won.

The one CD Sarah and I ever managed to release is just 4 tracks, and this is one of them.  That album is named “Fire on the Hill” for this song.

Also, in the live CONvergence version, we are joined by our friend Dave Stagner, who helped record and produce that album, and who plays an AWESOME electric guitar with us when we’re in the same place at the same time.  He’ll sneak onto other tracks from that performance, and I love what he adds to our music!

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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Fearless

This is a song the TCWC is singing this weekend.  It’s one that I find myself listening to a lot these days, actually.

I don’t typically consider myself to be held back by fear.  It isn’t that I don’t HAVE fear; I have PLENTY of fear.  But I just…well, if I let being scared keep me back, I wouldn’t live where I do, I wouldn’t have married my wife, I wouldn’t go climbing three times a week, I wouldn’t do or have done any of the things that make me who I am.  Everything I cherish has only come to me after fear.  And it has always been worth it.

Even when, as Kat Perkins says, “There’s no love without heartbreak.”

I think this song has such a beautiful mix of pride and defiance and awareness of the things that do hold us back.  It reminds me that it’s okay that having courage is hard sometimes, that taking the step past the fear isn’t always going to be easy.  That it’s okay to struggle and be scared.

And that the ability to live in spite of fear, the ability to love in spite of fear, is a choice.  It isn’t often an easy one, and it isn’t often a painless one.

To live fearless is a decision a person has to make a million times a day, and it might not ever get any easier to do.  And it’s okay that it’s hard, it’s okay when it isn’t hard, and it’s okay to be proud of the times it works out right along with the times it doesn’t.

What would I do if I weren’t afraid?  Probably about what I’m doing right now.

And I’d still have bled for it, cried for it, ached and anguished for it.  And never regretted a minute of it.

Tonight, and every moment there’s a spark living in me, I’ll be fearless, too.

Thanks, Kat Perkins.

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