Videos of the new songs that Stranger Ways debuted at Arisia are now up! Thanks to everyone who came, to Julia Suggs for guesting with us (and even wearing wings for the occasion!), and to everyone who gave us feedback afterward. We're really excited about doing more work on this project!

Of course, every little mistake stands out glaringly to me, but really it makes me glad that for once we're performing songs before we commit to recording so we can fix the bits that don't work between now and release, and overall I'm quite happy with how things went! The mix is a bit sub-optimal in places, so we've included lyrics in the video descriptions for people who are into that sort of thing. ;)

As linked above, so embedded below...

While I've got Arisia on the brain, one other quick thing:

So, after Strangerfrass/Sassaways did our thing, this group I'd never heard of called Psyche Corporation went on. Unfortunately, it seems nobody else had heard of them either, because while we enjoyed a nice sized crowd, the room mostly cleared out when we were done.

Especially since Psyche Corporation was super-patient with us since we went long and ate into what should have been their sound check, and sounded interesting when I heard them setting up, I felt bad when the audience dwindled to something far smaller than what they seemed to deserve, so Sandry and I stuck around to hear and support them. I'm glad I did.

Psyche Corporation wasn't so much a band as a one-woman show with a guest cellist. Not that the cellist was unremarkable, far from it, it's just one of those ships where it's clear who the captain is, so to speak. The leading lady (I couldn't find her name on their website, but I met her afterward and she seemed quite nice) pre-composes industrial/EBM-ish backing tracks herself and then sings while doing choreographed dances to them. It's a spectacle designed for a big, lavish show and here she is on tiny, unadorned stage at a sci-fi con with all of about ten people in the audience. There are things that look great in the right context and silly in the wrong context, and I'll be honest: I think some of her presentation suffered from the context, but you know what? For all that, neither she nor the cellist looked like they were doing their thing with any less commitment than if they'd been under lights at a club with 500 people watching, and that, folks, is the mark of professionals. Much respect.

I grabbed one of their albums and have been liking it. Reminds me a lot of Unwoman, with whom it turns out they've performed.

Ok, this ended up being a lot more long-winded than the quick little signal boost I originally went to post, so I'll leave you with one of their videos:

Yay, an item I can cross off of my depressingly long "major projects that are thiiiiiis close to being finished" list! Below is a playlist of all of the Arisia '13 PowerPoint Karaoke presentations I have been given permission to post.

I want to thank everyone for an AMAZING turnout. When I was first planning this event I was nervous. Sure, PPK had gone well at Intercon, but that's all LARPers, which is just about the perfect audience. Arisia is a much broader swath of geekdom, and I was worried no one would show up, let alone want to take part.

I have learned that this was a very silly fear. All nine of the new presentations I'd created were claimed about five minutes before the event started, and I had to bring in older presentations (and get permission from the next performer to go over our allotted time) to handle the overflow. And the room was packed!. Standing-room only in a room with a capacity of at least 200! Not in my wildest dreams would I have expected as many attendees, great presenters, or laughs as we got! I had a great time, and I hope those of you who saw it did too! Thank you!

I could go on (and on), but the videos can speak for themselves and I should get to work, so I'll let this here playlist speak for its self. :)
This has been a pretty amazing weekend. I sometimes say that the fun I have at a con is directly proportional to the number of people I know there and the number of events I'm involved in, and by that measure, Arisia 2013 was absolutely spectacular.

Cumulative sleep Fri-Mon: approx 16 hrs. Not bad for a con! ;)

Particularly noteworthy events (off the top of my head) include...

People Most Excellent )

The Stranger Ways / Sassafrass Concert ) know, this is already getting really long, and there's still so much more to write about, so I think I'm going to tie this one off and (hopefully) make this a series of posts.

If you're in the Boston area, and especially if you're already going to Arisia, my band, Stranger Ways, will be performing on Saturday at noon in a joint show with the very talented Sassafrass, and while this will be the third such show we've done, I'm particularly excited about this one. Here's the FB invite

We're going to be debuting songs from our upcoming new album, Iron and Rust. Unlike our first two Arisia shows, this will not be an album release party... and that's a good thing! We're really taking our time with this one, and trying something much more ambitious than anything we've done before. Not only will this one be 100% original songs, all of the songs will be connected into a single coherent (we hope) story. It's also some of the most musically challenging stuff we've written (yay live performance! no pressure!!).

For almost a year now we've been meeting weekly, alternating between dedicated sessions for writing music, lyrics, and plot, and practicing the songs we've written, and the Arisia show will be the first public performance of the first half (give or take) of the album. It's kind of terrifying to finally be opening something on which we've spent so much time to public scrutiny, but I'm feeling cautiously optimistic. If you come, feel free to take notes on the new stuff! I'd love to treat this like a workshop and get feedback afterward. We'll also be doing a set with songs from our earlier albums, plus maybe a surprise or two... ;)

As in previous years we'll be alternating sets with Sassafrass, and this year they're *also* about to release a new concept album, based on stories from Norse mythology... but I'll let them tell you all about that. :)

I had a really fantastic Arisia this year for a number of reasons. Maybe it's something about the Winter, or maybe it's just what happens when you put almost everyone I know on the east coast in one place for a weekend every year, but every Arisia, good or bad, seems to encompass the milestones of that year for me, and looking back on them shows me how much things change and how much my life has changed each year.

My first Arisia was my first live performance with Second Shift, on a double bill with this other audio theater group of whom I'd never heard, called the Post Meridian Radio Players.

I attended my second Arisia with Sequoia and [ profile] rigel, both of whom I was involved with at the time. I handled some things badly, and in a way it marked a turning point in both relationships.

I started my third Arisia in an awkward quasi-dating state with [ profile] juldea, and left it officially dating her.

By my fourth Arisia, [ profile] juldea and I had broken up, but I wasn't over it yet. It was also the first and only con where I didn't do any performing (which I've found has a huge effect on how much I get out of a con experience), and I got a cold Saturday night to boot. Needless to say, this was not my favorite time 'round, but even then I met both [ profile] sandrylene (IRL, at least) and [ profile] fontia, and I'm glad for that.

This year was distinct because not only did I do more performing and paneling than in previous years, but I was also in the most stable place socially/romantically I'd been in for any Arisias past. My romantic situation definitely deserves its own post sometime, but suffice it to say for now that not only am I very happily involved with two lovely people, I even got to perform with both of them over the course of the weekend. This among a number of other factors contributed to just about the perfect way to get 2011 started.

Some highlights:

The Starship of Madness
Friday night I did monster voices for the PMRP Doctor Who/HP Lovecraft crossover show, "The Starship of Madness", which was very well received. I hadn't expected it to be badly received, but people really liked it (apparently we even got a nice writeup in the Boston Phoenix). As [ profile] preraphaelite and I walked the halls afterward, we each got recognized and complemented several times. This was understandable for her, because she made an awesome sexy villain, but all I did was say things like "get them!" and "flee! flee for healing!" in a funny voice, and yet people still seemed to dig it, so yay! [ profile] read_alicia will be happy to know there were also inquiries after the author of the script. We referred them to the Mask of Inanna site. :)

Sassafrass/Stranger Ways: Dark, Nerdy, Norse, A Capella, Folk Concert Extravaganza!
On Saturday afternoon Stranger Ways and Sassafrass had a joint concert that was a joy to take part in. I'll let y'all in on a little secret: up until then I didn't really think of Stranger Ways as a band. We were just some friends who played music in my basement and were presumptuous enough to record an album to release at our second show ever. But once we were up there, jazzing off the energy of the people in the audience, and realizing that they were actually into us... it was great. I think some of the live versions of our songs are actually significantly better than the recorded versions, plus we ended up making back everything we spent on producing the album, and between the two groups we were approached by representatives of three other cons who all wanted us to perform there! I remember during one song, a sing-along where this room full of a couple hundred people were all singing with us...I started to get all choked up. It was just beautiful, and my thanks to everyone who helped make it happen.

For those who couldn't make it, we have video of most of the songs by both bands, in concert order, up on a youtube playlist here. Please check it out and share! I'm really pleased with the whole thing, but here are a few of my favorites:

- Our opener, Boys of Bedlam
- Our funniest/cutest song, Week Exchange
- A cover of one of my favorite Tripod songs, I Will Still Play (thanks to [ profile] rubicantoto for turning me on to them!). Getting to perform this song was huge for me!
- Our big sing-along closer for the first set, Fhear A Bhata
- Sassafrass' song about the runic alphabet, in which I am comically tall, The Futhark Song
- My favorite Sassafrass song Somebody Will. I love the lyrics and sentiment of this song dearly, and didn't get to join in on the sing-along parts because I was too busy crying in the corner. I remember hearing it for the first time at a Sassafrass concert I went to with [ profile] juldea... and now that's her singing it as a member of the group. Awesome. :)
- Finally, our big joint group closing number, Toys for Big Kids, in which [ profile] faerieboots gets her mad science on!

Story Improv!
As if that wasn't enough, I then ran a panel, and not just any panel, the Story Improv panel! This is an event where four writers take turns writing a story based on prompts from the audience. I was the emcee, which means I was in charge of coming up with prompts to solicit from the audience and giving those prompts to one writer while interviewing the other three to keep the audience entertained. To be honest, I was really, really nervous because I'd spent so much time prepping for PMRP and Stranger Ways that I really hadn't spent much time getting ready for this, and was madly reviewing a recording of a similar panel to remember how the format went just hours before the event.

It went pretty fantastically. There is a thing about myself that I keep forgetting: if you put me in front of a responsive audience and just tell me to start talking, I can generally do it. Hopefully that lesson will stick one of these days. Anyway, there's a transcript and an mp3 up here. The recording is about an hour long, but I'm really happy with how it turned out, and it's a lot more fun than just reading the story. ;)

2010: Our Hideous Future
I continue to be amazed by the creativity and talent in the community out here. Case in point: have I mentioned that some friends of mine wrote and produced a full-length musical in their spare time? Seriously, how cool is that? It's a really fun show, and the brand new soundtrack is currently on sale super cheap at Amazon.
If you're looking for something to sample, I recommend tracks 7 and 12, which are both good songs for different reasons and both show off Kamela Dolinova's great voice, as well as #21 in which [ profile] lediva makes an awesome singing, world-dominating computer, and #23, which sums up the show's sense of humor pretty well.

Everything else
There were just too many other things, too many little moments, to list them all. From conversations with people I don't see often, to reminiscing and joking with people about things that had been sources of great tension between us at the time, to a big, Saturday night cuddle-pile that segued straight into the con's big dance party.

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic weekend. I just hope that the rest of 2011 can keep up.



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