Baron Dave Romm
Marscon 2009 Dementia Track Fundraiser
By Baron Dave Romm
Shockwave Radio Theater podcasts
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Fundraisers for 2007 and 2008
The great Luke Ski has an interesting, self-appointed job: To ceaselessly promote Dementia Music. The effort is huge, but he gets to hang around with his friends. As he makes more and better music, he gets better and better at the promotion. Watch out Sonny Bono! Somehow, he never runs out of energy. Geeze, I hope they don't test this guy for steroids...
The Dean of Demented Music is Dr. Demento. More than the godfather of this branch of filk music/novelty songs/funny stuff, it's how he earns his living. He and Weird Al Yankovic benefited from a symbiotic relationship, back when the field was smaller. Both could make fame and fortune in their respective niches. Now, YouTube is ubiquitous... and free.
Shockwave Radio Theater tried, as much as possible, to promote weirdness in all categories, not just music. We didn't get paid either, and our influence was largely local, largely at science fiction conventions, at least until the internet spread the word across the world. We didn't write or perform music, but we kept the spirit alive, and the radio show introduced listeners to some very strange artists. There is a reason why science fiction convetions, Minneapolis conventions in particular and Marscon in specific is one of the hotbeds of Filk and Dementia Music.
Marscon has had a Dementia Music Track since 2003, possibly the only sf con to dedicate a programming room to these performances. Many conventions, including Minicon, also in Minneapolis, have Filk Rooms, but these are largely (though not solely) traditional filk in the sense that a work is shared in a music circle, and others are encouraged to join in playing and singing. Dementia Music is performed in front of an audience.
And that's where the Dementia Track Fundraisers come in. (You were wondering when I'd get to that, eh?)
The 2007 Dementia Track Fundraiser captured many of the live performances, which is always iffy, and as I said of the 2008 Dementia Track Fundraiser, you don't buy it for the music, "the reason to get the CD is to encourage them to do it again." And they did.
The first two Fundraiser CDs were largely vanity projects; a remembrance if you were there, a collectable if you're a geek. Not unlike the Obama Plate Sets now being offered, except noisier and you can't eat off them. For 2009, everything changed.
Marscon 2009 Dementia Track Fundraiser
The Marscon 2009 Dementia Track Fundraiser is available in not one! Not two! Not three! Not five! But four different configurations!
I was in the audience for much of Dementia track at Marscon 2008, where these were recorded. Luke Ski and Earl Luckes kept the acts moving; not easy when you havn't scheduled any set-up time between acts. Live music is a different art form than recorded music. Too often, as in the previous two fundraisers, a live album is more for fans than it is about the music. But now we can record more than just the music, and the musicians at Marscon are experienced and funny. Some of the introductions, missed music cues and banter is entertaining, even if you weren't there.
Some of the banter is entertaining even if you weren't there.
The great Luke Ski has engineered two separate sets of CDs: A two-disk set with mostly music cuts, and a three-disk set including more banter and the Opening Ceremonies skit. You can order either set of CDs (shipping included) or you can get the downloaded versions for cheaper. For $15, you can get 2 1/2 hours of music and personalty in mp3 form. Just the iPod stuffer for a late X-Mas gift.
I got the two-disk set: Intros and some banter are included, but the Fundraiser comprises mostly performances. Much like any live recording, the studio recordings are (to my ears) better. But not always, and sometimes the energy of the crowd is fed back to the artists.
The professional quality of the recordings is a pleasant surprise, given the home-made-sounding Fundraisers of years past. Again, this is due to Luke as well as Marscon. At times, during the con, Luke almost made running the stage seem like work. Well, it paid off.
Geeks will appreciate Worm Quartet's "Ode to the golden days of cybersex," Less Than Three. WQ benefits from a decision to avoid bleeping. You have to hear him in all his raunchy glory. And you really have to be part of the audience for What Your Parents Think All Your Music Sounds Like, though you can get the sense of it from the recording. Devo Spice, formerly using his band name of Sudden Death, brings a bunch of his the FuMP.com friends to pop Pillagers.
For the most part, performers with recorded backing tracks come off better than those who play instruments. Paul & Storm are a major exception. Referring to the audience, they ask rhetorically, "We're totally going to play with this toy until it breaks, aren't we?" They get a telephone call in the middle of a song, and share Jonathan Coulter with the room. They get everyone to ad lib "Arrrr" jokes during The Captain's Wife's Lament.
Dementia Music covers a lot of very strange ground, and the mix of short sets and Smackdowns are a good way to sample groups you might not encounter otherwise. The Gothsicles's thrash/goth is not my cup of hemlock, but I really liked their version of The Yolk's On You. Beth Kinderman serves cake and grief counseling to to the zombie fighters who are Still Alive. Devo Spice returns for a sequel, Bacon 2: Electric Bugaloo.
I'm glad I own the 2007 and 2008 Fundraisers, because these are my friends, I'm a geek, I'm a bit of a collector of unusual recordings, and because I was there. I can recommend the Marscon 2009 Dementia Track Fundraiser for anyone who enjoys comedy music and who really enjoys listening to people having loads of fun making comedy music. If you're unfamiliar with these groups, it's a good sampler to get you started. If you have their studio albums, you may want to fill in your collection.
And, as mentioned, the downloaded versions are a great last-minute (or not so last-minute) gift for the budding Demented Music Appreciator.
Reflections on being in the audience
For 30 years now (!), I've felt a big part of my job, on the radio, at conventions and on the web is to keep people weird. This isn't necessarily a difficult job, given that most of them were pretty idiosyncratic to begin with. I love playing to an audience who get's the jokes. For most of the Shockwave Live Stage Shows, I wrote a part for the audience. Introducing new forms of humor, promoting fellow artists, keeping people on their conceptual toes: I did my part, and kept on the surface a strain of strange that was threatening to go back underground.
My job, as emcee or at Opening and Closing Ceremonies, was to find people in thankless jobs and thank them for it. As moderator and/or participant on panels, I got to spout off while giving others the opportunity to spout off and/or challenge assumptions. This is lots of fun. I've probably done more Opening/Closing Ceremonies at sf cons than almost anyone else on the planet.
Being in the audience is an odd feeling. To be sure, with the explosion of Mpls conventions, I'm not quite the impresario I once was. Many conventions, including Marscon, do wonderful Opening/Closing Ceremonies, an I'm happy to sit back and take it easy for a change. Not being emcee/dj evokes similar feelings.
I was never the high energy announcer. My style was more Ed Sullivan than Dr. Demento; more FM than AM; more Bob & Ray than Craig Ferguson. Heck, half the people reading this don't get some of those references.
I'm content, usually, to pass the baton and to reflect on a life of being a big fish in a small pond. I still run Opening/Closing Ceremonies at Minicon, and I'm on lots of programming at various cons, including Marscon. But the Dementia Music Track seems to have passed over me. More power to 'em. They're doing a great job. Still, they don't quite appreciate those of us who toiled in the trenches. I'm not part of the scene, and it leaves a bit of a void in me. I'll probably be moving out of that section of the convention. Moving out slowly... I still want to see all the acts... and do radio... and podcasts... and interviews... and photo galleries... and...
Aw heck. Who do I think I'm kidding. The show is too much fun to let go. See you at Marscon 2009!
Baron Dave Romm is a conceptual artist and a noble of Ladonia who produces Shockwave Radio Theater, writes in a Live Journal demi-blog, plays with a very weird CD collection and an ever growing list of political links. Dave Romm reviews things at random for obscure web sites. You can read all his music recommendations from Bartcop-E. Podcasts of Shockwave Radio Theater. Permanent archive. More radio programs, interviews and science fiction humor plays can be accessed on the Shockwave Radio audio page.
Thanks to everyone who has sent me music to play on the air.
Michael Moore: Senate to Middle Class: Drop Dead
The Senate decided that it is more important to break a union, more important to throw middle class wage earners into the ranks of the working poor than to prevent the total collapse of industrial America.
JOEL STEIN: Franken vs. Coleman: Still Counting in Minnesota (time.com)
Ever since the recount was completed, the two campaigns have been fighting over crucial handful of ballots that are being challenged for one reason or another.
FROMA HARROP: A Senate Seat Is Not a Kennedy Heirloom (creators.com)
Have New York Democrats lost all self-respect? Their excited talk of whether Caroline Kennedy is "interested" in Hillary Clinton's Senate seat makes you wonder.
Susan Estrich: The Old Media (creators.com)
In Los Angeles, where I live, there was plenty of snickering this week about Tribune Company's decision to file for bankruptcy protection. Tribune owns the Los Angeles Times, which in recent years has seen its staff cut even more than its circulation and advertising.
JOEL STEIN: Our long national pie hangover (latimes.com)
Obama must level with Americans: We're disgusting pigs.
Daddy dearest (guardian.co.uk)
Famous, fearless, clever, cool: five writers open their family albums to offer a snapshot of their fathers.
Hadley Freeman: Reality show pop star who turned out to have the real X Factor (guardian.co.uk)
Glittery warmth has seen Cheryl Cole outshine even Simon Cowell.
Clay Cane: Brandy Grown Up (advocate.com)
Despite a rough couple of years, onetime R&B princess Brandy is holding her head high on her new album Human. Though gay fans would probably line the block for a sequel of "The Boy Is Mine" with former duet buddy Monica, don't hold your breath -- Brandy, now 29, says, "We're too old for that."
Bet you think this song is about you (guardian.co.uk)
From "Layla" to "Country House," from "Walk On The Wild Side" to "Orinoco Flow" Dave Simpson meets people who inspired pop songs.
Brandon Voss: Big Gay Following: Chelsea Handler (advocate.com)
Comedian and former Mormon Chelsea Handler is a fan of the gays -- but she's no Tori Spelling.
Dara Nai: Interview with Mandy Musgrave (afterellen.com)
The South of Nowhere star on her character, her engagement, whether girls kiss better than guys, and a sexy unaired Girltrash scene.
Dara Nai: Interview with Patricia Resnick (afterellen.com)
The out writer of "Nine to Five" talks about the film, the play, and being serenaded by Dolly Parton.
Richard Roeper looks back at the year in movies and offers his list of the Top 25 (suntimes.com)
Chicago is Gotham City, and Gotham City is Chicago. That was made very clear in "The Dark Knight," the second installment of Christopher Nolan's masterful reinvention of a "Batman" franchise that had collapsed under the weight of nipply bat-suits and hammy cameos, and the addition of Robin, who's like the Keebler Elf of Superheroes. On Nolan's watch, Batman is the best super-anti-hero in modern film history -- and he lives here. With "Batman Begins," one could recognize bits and pieces of Chicago in Nolan's version of Gotham, but in "The Dark Knight," that city was Chicago, albeit with some CGI enhancements.
David Bruce: Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer: A Discussion Guide (lulu.com)
Nicole Hollander: Sylvia (Cartoon)
The Weekly Poll
The Obama 'So far' Edition
Are you satisfied with the cabinet picks and policy statements that our President-elect has made to date?
A.) Yes! They are all spot on!
B.) Kinda, sorta... I like__________, but am not entirely happy about__________..
C.) No! I am not a happy camper and here's why__________...
Send your response, and a (short) reason why, to BadToTheBoneBob ( BCEpoll 'at' aol.com )
from that Mad Cat, JD
In The Chaos Household
Sunny but cold for these parts.
The Poly High Jackrabbits won their 18th CIF championship Saturday night at Angels Stadium behind the Orange Curtain.
Raises $1.8M For amfAR
Dubai Film Festival
An auction of celebrity memorabilia on the sidelines of the Dubai International Film Festival raised 1.8 million dollars for the fight against AIDS, the organisers announced on Saturday. Skip related content
The funds collected for the benefit of the Foundation for AIDS Research, amfAR, included a gift of 500,000 dollars from employees of Emirates group Pearl Dubai, a sponsor of the festival.
Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek opened the Friday evening auction by auctioning a Cartier bracelet carrying her signature, which sold for 80,000 dollars.
A rare portrait of Marilyn Monroe from 1962 with the signature of photographer Bert Stern, put into the auction by Goldie Hawn, was knocked down for 40,000 dollars.
Dubai Film Festival
Bids 'SNL' Adios
Amy Poehler is officially exiting "Saturday Night Live" this time.
Less than two months after giving birth to son Archie, she made a surprise return last week to the late-night comedy show where she has been a regular for eight seasons.
Then, Saturday, she surprised viewers again by telling them goodbye.
"This is my last show," Poehler announced from her "Weekend Update" anchor desk. "Being able to do over 140 shows with my friends and my family has been a dream come true."
Says He's The Political Beatle
Paul McCartney claims that he was the real politicized figure in The Beatles, not John Lennon, according to an interview published Sunday.
McCartney was quoted as saying it was he who first raised concerns over the Vietnam war within the group and advocated their anti-war stance.
Fans have long regarded Lennon, who wrote songs such as "Revolution" and - in later years - "Give Peace a Chance," as the group's authentic political voice.
But McCartney claimed that his meeting with philosopher Bertrand Russell in the mid-1960s sparked his own - and eventually Lennon's - curiosity about world affairs.
Community leaders in Shanghai are trying to break up the love affair of some city residents with walking outside in their pyjamas, state media reported Friday.
The Rixin neighbourhood committee in the city's northeast has begun a campaign to discourage residents' longstanding habit of wearing pyjamas out of their bedrooms and on the streets, the state-run Youth Daily reported.
"We're telling people not to wear pyjamas in the street because it looks very uncivilised," community official Guo Xilin was quoted as saying.
The Shanghainese habit of wearing pyjamas in public emerged alongside China's economic reforms over the past 30 years as it became a sign of prosperity, because it meant people did not sleep in tattered old clothes.
Drawn by Switzerland's reputation as a trouble-free place for foreigners to end their lives, more than 100 Germans, Britons, French, Americans and others come to this small commuter town just east of Zurich each year to lie down on a bed in an industrial park building and drink a lethal dose of barbiturates.
Now the country's suicide practices are under the spotlight after British TV last week showed Craig Ewert, a 59-year-old Chicago man with a severe form of motor neuron disease, killing himself in Switzerland two years ago.
Other countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, and Oregon and Washington in the U.S., have recently passed laws allowing the incurably sick to seek out a doctor who - under tightly regulated circumstances - can hasten their death.
But only Switzerland, in a law dating back to 1942, permits foreigners to come and kill themselves, placing few restrictions on the how, when and why. Doctors have relative freedom to prescribe a veterinary drug for that very purpose
Can Be Bad Medicine
Taking menopause hormones for five years doubles the risk for breast cancer, according to a new analysis of a big federal study that reveals the most dramatic evidence yet of the dangers of these still-popular pills.
Even women who took estrogen and progestin pills for as little as a couple of years had a greater chance of getting cancer. And when they stopped taking them, their odds quickly improved, returning to a normal risk level roughly two years after quitting.
Collectively, these new findings are likely to end any doubt that the risks outweigh the benefits for most women.
Naples Nativity Figures
President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are appearing in Italian nativity scenes this year, alongside the baby Jesus and wise men, according to Naples craftsmen selling figurines in the run-up to Christmas.
The production of handmade figurines for nativity scenes is big business in this southern Italian city and has been for centuries.
But beyond the thousands of angel, sheep, Mary and Joseph figures filling market stalls before Christmas, craftsmen say Obama has become a top seller.
"The ones we are selling the most of are those of Barack Obama, America's new president, along with his wife Michelle," said craftsman Genny Di Virgilio.
19th-Century Shipwreck In Lake Ontario
Two explorers conducting underwater surveys of Lake Ontario have uncovered an aquatic mystery - a rare 19th-century schooner sitting upright 500 feet under the waves.
Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville located the 55-foot long dagger-board ship unexpectedly this fall using deep scan sonar equipment off the lake's southern shore, west of Rochester.
The ship is the only dagger-board known to have been found in the Great Lakes. Kennard said vessels of this type were used for a short time in the early 1800s. The dagger-board was a wood panel that could be extended through the keel to improve the ship's stability. The dagger-boards could be raised when the schooner entered a shallow harbor, allowing the boat to load and unload cargo in locations that would not otherwise be accessible to larger ships.
The shipwreck was found upright and in remarkable condition considering it had plunged more than 500 feet to its resting place on the bottom, the men said.
Weekend Box Office
'The Day the Earth Stood Still'
Audiences sat still for Keanu Reeves' sci-fi remake "The Day the Earth Stood Still," making it the weekend's top movie with a $31 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The overall box office plummeted compared with the same weekend last year, when "I Am Legend" opened with $77.2 million and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" debuted with $44.3 million. This weekend's top 12 movies took in $83.3 million, down 45 percent from a year ago.
Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" played in six locations and took in $284,000 to average $47,333. The Warner Bros. film stars Eastwood as a bigot who becomes an unlikely protector for his immigrant neighbors against street thugs.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "The Day the Earth Stood Still," $31 million.
2. "Four Christmases," $13.3 million.
3. "Twilight," $8 million.
4. "Bolt," $7.5 million.
5. "Australia," $4.3 million.
6. "Quantum of Solace," $3.8 million.
7. "Nothing Like the Holidays," $3.5 million.
8. "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," $3.3 million.
9. "Milk," $2.6 million.
10. "Transporter 3," $2.3 million.
'The Day the Earth Stood Still'