The Annotated “Playback”


Tomorrow, Friday October 20, begins OVFF 33, the annual Ohio Valley Filk Fest, the biggest filk convention (certainly in stature; probably in people too?).

I am thus pleased to announce that after months of on-again-off-again work, and the assistance of several friends including @animatedamerican​ and @jchance4d4​, I have finished the project envisioned here, and annotated all of the references in Andrew Ross’s “Playback.”

(Well, as much as I could. One or two were not identifiable fully.)

A lot of people commented approving of this idea when @seananmcguire​ reblogged this, so I hope you see the fruits of our labor.


Song above the cut; references below.

to the tune of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire
filk lyrics by Andrew Ross

Mary Shelley, HG Wells, people meeting at hotels
Rudyard Kipling, people singing ditties at the bar
Gilbert, Sullivan, rounds of Young Man Mulligan
Poul and Karen Anderson, songs in Key of R

Martha Keller, Tolkein, songs of worlds as yet unseen
TH White’s Arthurians, Frederick Pohl’s Futurians
Tom Lehrer, Mondegreens, Slan Shacks, fanzines
Music circles, Reprints, Jacobs has a misprint!

We shouted “MacIntyre!”
It’s our cry of battle for the Old Dun Cattle
We shouted “MacIntyre!”
And we haven’t parted since the circle started

Amazing Stories Annuals, Pelz’s Filksong Manuals
Dr. Demento tunes, Callahan’s Crosstime Saloons
Hope Eyrie, Leslie Fish, bounced potatoes off the dish
Robert Aspirin, Gwen Zak, Dawson’s Christian, Captain Jack

Off Centaur, Teri Lee, making love in zero-G
Filthy Pierre, Longcor, black market Tullamore
Juanita Coulson, Red Lions, badges marked with Dandelions
Dorsai have a Fan Club! Jello in the bathtub!

Don’t set the cat on fire
It will only fight it if you try to light it
Don’t set the cat on fire
And we haven’t parted since the circle started

Peter Beagle, Consonance, chili cursed with sentience
HOPSFA, NESFA, ConChord, and the Pegasus Award
PFNEN, Ose, Amway, Talk Like a Pirate Day
Dandelion Digitals, Julia Ecklar and the gulls

Bob Laurent, Asimov, Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff
Rocky Horror Muppet Shows, Frank Hayes feeling indisposed
Bill Sutton DIY, Marischiello goodbye
Challenger! Final tour! What else must we all endure?

We saw the sky on fire
While the world was staring, we were Jordin Karing
We saw the sky on fire
And we haven’t parted since the circle started

Kathy Mar, Next Gen, Tullamore is back again
Steve Macdonald, Elfquest, Interfilk funds a guest
Tom Smith, 307 Ale, Lee Gold, Heather Dale
Phoenyx, Keepers of the Flame, Filkontario’s Hall of Fame

Echo’s Children, Bab-5, need a fool to feed the drive
Hamlet done by John Woo, Marilisa Valtazanou
GaFilk, Urban Tapestry, lives rich in fantasy
Airwalls down at Orycon! Firebells at Baycon!

We didn’t start a fire
We were all but deafened, and began Kanefin’
We didn’t start a fire
And we haven’t parted since the circle started

Blake Hodgetts, Proteins, Vixy, Tony, Thirteen
Stone Dragons, Moxie, Zander, Heather into Alexander
Bill and Gretchen, dead mouse, alligators in the house
ConFlikt, Judi Filksign, Tragedy at East Hill Mine

Mary Crowell, Faerieworlds, brony boys and Wicked Girls
Britain’s Talis Kimberly, Seanan’s Kellis-Amberlee
Doubleclicks! Browncoats! Cats! FuMP! Toy Boat!
Release the Cello! Sasquon! Thor! Pass another Tullamore!

We didn’t start the choir
It’s been so cathartic for the longest bardic
We didn’t start the choir
But when our turns have gone, it will still go on and on until the dawn…

Mary Shelley: As in, the writer of the first science fiction novel, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.

HG Wells: Wrote The Time Machine and War of the Worlds and, along with Jules Verne, is considered one of the fathers of science fiction by people who don’t count Mary. (Jules pioneered “hard” SF, where he justified as much as he could with science; HG was busy making social metaphors.)

People meeting at hotels: AKA “conventions.” The first SF con was (debatably) Philcon in 1936, when ten people from the New York SF club went down to Philly to meet those guys. They called it a convention because the Democratic and Republican National Conventions had both been in Philly earlier that year, so it was a joke, see. The first World Science Fiction Convention was in New York in 1939.

Rudyard Kipling: English poet and journalist, famously a representation of British imperialism, but a lot of his stuff got set to music by Leslie Fish (for whom see more later).

People singing ditties at the bar: AKA filk. Or karaoke. Or any other sort of thing that happens when people who sing are near people who sing.

Gilbert, SullivanLight operettists famous for patter. They get refilked a lot.

Rounds of Young Man Mulligan: “Old Man Mulligan” was a 1940 story from Astounding Science Fiction by P. Schuyler Miller; as far as I can tell it was a pretty standard adventure story but it featured the titular Old Man who’d been around forever. “Young Man Mulligan” is an SFnal version of ”The Great Historical Bum” (aka “I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago” or “The Bragging Song”; lyrics here); it opens “I was born about ten thousand years from now,” so you can see how it’ll go from that. It was one of the original “everybody keeps writing new verses” songs; Bruce Pelz published almost 70 in an early filkbook and many many more have been written since. (The Pelz lyrics do not appear to be available online.)

Poul and Karen Anderson: Poul was a Golden Age writing legend, one of the Grand Masters of SFWA, maybe one rung down from Asimov and Heinlein (maybe). Karen, his widow and sometimes co-writer, is among many other significant things the first person to deliberately use the term “filk music” in print. They both wrote their fair share of filk, and were inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2003.

Songs in the Key of R: Another way to say “off key.” See this folk song (lyrics here) of…disputed provenance (I have found a few different claims of authorship).

Martha Keller: Poet and balladeer, born 1902, died 1971. A number of her poems from Brady’s Bend and Other Ballads were put to music by Juanita Coulson (see below) in 1984 on “Rifles & Rhymes” by Off Centaur Publications (see below).

Tolkien: Do I really need to? Fine. Wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ringsand basically created the modern fantasy genre on accident while he was busy with constructed languages and mythologies.

Songs of worlds as yet unseen: AKA “filk.” See also “Folk Songs for Folk Who Ain’t Even Been Yet,” by Leslie Fish (see below), which was the first commercially published filk album.

TH White’s Arthurians: White’s The Once and Future King is a distillation and to some extent modernization of the King Arthur legend; the first part was The Sword in the Stone and yes, that’s what the Disney movie was adapted from. And yes, there have been plenty of Arthurian filk songs over the years.

Frederick Pohl’s Futurians: An early group of SF fans, specifically New York area fans (several of them were part of the 1936 Philcon mentioned above). Famously, several politically-minded Futurians were arguably-banned (whether it was really a “ban” still gets debated today) from the first Worldcon in ‘39 for handing out political flyers; Pohl was one of those.

Tom Lehrer: He’s a retired mathematics professor who “hangs out” at UC Santa Cruz, but in the ‘50s-’60s he was an active mathematics professor and also a fairly popular political satirist. Despite having no love for folk music (see his songs “The Folk Song Army,” lyrics here, and even moreso “The Irish Ballad,” lyrics here, wherein he calls the folk song “the particular form of permissible idiocy of the intellectual fringe”), his stuff gets sung a lot in filk circles.

Mondegreens: Misheard lyrics, like the famous “‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy” (for “Kiss the Sky,” by Jimi Hendrix). Named by Sylvia Wright in 1954 after her own mishearing of the ballad “The Bonnie Earl o’Moray; the line was “They hae slain the Earl o’ Moray/And laid him on the green,” and she heard “and Lady Mondegreen.” The term caught on, and it and/or some individual mondegreens have been the inspiration for no small number of filk songs and at least one filk band.

Slan Shacks: Early term for an SF clubhouse or house filled with fans; named for A.E. van Vogt’s 1940 novel Slan which was an early version of the persecuted-superior-race-of-beings story (think X-Men). Fans in the ‘40s-50s picked up the phrase “Fans are Slans” in yet another example of the weird ostracism/superiority cycle that pervades fandom to this day.

Fanzines: The internet before the internet. When fans wanted to communicate over long distances and all they had was printed paper, they printed papers. They made little bound fan-made magazines (hence, fanzines, or just zines) of their songs, stories, jokes, and opinions and mailed them to each other. A lot of early filk was in the pages of fanzines.

Music circles: How filk typically happens–people sit in a circle and sing. They usually take turns. See below for “bardic” and “chaos.”

Reprints: Printings again. A lot of filk didn’t necessarily get them, but some did, including some early albums, some early filkbooks like the NESFA Hymnal, see below, or the Westerfilk Collection.

Jacobs has a misprint!: While Karen Anderson (see above) was the first person to deliberately use the word “filk” in print, the first use of the word at all was a typo in Lee Jacobs’s essay, which ended up being called “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music.” It spread in conversation as a funny typo for a while before Karen fixed it in a tangible medium of expression.

We shouted “MacIntyre!” (and the rest of that chorus): “When the Old Dun Cow Caught Fire” or “The Old Dun Cow” or “Macintyre!” is a very classic music hall song (written 1893) that gets performed by basically every folk or filk group that aims for that “British Isles drinking song” feel. See here for pedigree, lyrics, and recording.

Amazing Stories Annuals: In 1927, Hugo Gernsback published Amazing Stories Annual, a pulp magazine of “scientifiction” (the term “science fiction” hadn’t been coined yet). It sold so well he made it quarterly almost immediately; he lost the rights a few years later and the magazine ended up falling to the 800-pound gorilla that was Astounding Science Fiction. But it was arguably where all this started.

Pelz’s Filksong Manuals: Bruce Pelz, a legend of California fandom, was among other things one of the first creators of bound, organized, and published filkbooks (complete with sheet music!), which were titled the Filksong Manuals. (He’s mentioned under the “Young Man Mulligan” entry; it was one of the Manuals that had those 70ish verses to “Mulligan.”) Pelz was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame posthumously in 2007.

Dr. Demento tunes: Barry Hansen, AKA “Dr. Demento,” was a DJ in 1970 when he realized that “novelty” tunes lit up the phone banks more than rock and roll, and created the “Dr. Demento” persona for a syndicated radio show of novelty, comedy, and otherwise unusual music. It was on the radio weekly until 2010 and is now produced weekly online. He’s played a fair amount of filk over the years, reintroduced Stan Freberg, Tom Lehrer, and Spike Jones to a grateful world, and both inspired and launched “Weird Al” Yankovic’s career.

Callahan’s Crosstime SaloonsCallahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson and the various “Callahan’s Place” stories that followed had more than a few filk songs among the lyrics (Robinson is a songwriter himself), and at one point a couple of filkers (Jordin and Mary Kay Kare, see below) appear as characters to sing their filk song about Callahan’s.

Hope EyrieListen here. Considered by many to be the “anthem” of filk, or possibly of science fiction fandom (inasmuch as it’s possible). Written by…

Leslie Fish: One of the most significant filkers in history; not only did she write “Hope Eyrie,” she also wrote the infamous-beyond-infamy “Banned from Argo,” created the subgenre of “Kipplefish”  by setting Rudyard Kipling’s (see above) poetry to music, had the first commercial filk album (see above), helped to popularize filk music, wrote some of the earliest Kirk/Spock slash fiction…she’s pretty important, is what I’m saying. When the Filk Hall of Fame was founded in 1995, she was one of the first three inductees.

Bounced potatoes off the dish: At Westercon XIX in San Diego in 1966, the hotel was legendarily bad. Most notably, the Guest of Honor banquet featured completely inedible food, prompting Poul Anderson (see above) to set a filk to the tune of “Waltzing Matilda,” entitled “Bouncing Potatoes.”

Robert Aspirin: SF writer active from the late 70s until his death in 2008, Bob was also the founder of the Dorsai Irregulars (see below), and one of the people who brought early filk from private hotel rooms into public spaces, by (among others) holding a bit all-night filksing in celebration of the Irregulars’ formation in 1974. He was another of the first Filk Hall of Fame inductees in 1995.

Gwen Zak: One of the more spiritually-focused filkers, Gwen is a Pegasus Award (see below) winner for “Circles” and nominee for “I Am Lord” (cowritten with Leslie Fish).

Dawson’s Christian: A filksong by Duane Elms, written 1987, about a ghost ship. It’s been refilked more than a few times itself, including “Dawson’s Concom” (where it’s about ghost…convention runners).

Captain Jack: Not Pirates (probably), not Torchwood (probably), but the titular character of Meg Davis’s 1975 song “Captain Jack and the Mermaid.”

Off Centaur: The first filk music publishing house, Off Centaur Publications produced much of the early commercially-released filk albums, thus making filk available outside of a convention/fandom setting for the first time. They were the third of the three initial 1995 inductees into the Filk Hall of Fame. OCP was founded by Jordin Kare, Catherine Cook, and…

Teri Lee: Who went on to found Firebird Arts & Music, one of the more active filk publishers working today.

Making love in zero-G: A recurring topic in filk songs, including “Home on LaGrange,” and most notably, “A Reconsideration Of Anatomical Docking Maneuvers In A Zero-Gravity Environment, or The Zero-G Sex Song,” the latter being the most direct reference given its first line.

Filthy Pierre: Erwin “Filthy Pierre” Strauss was one of the prime movers in early filk on the East Coast of the US in the 1970s, creating some of the first songbooks, lists of top songs to know, and a lot of filk evangelism. To this day his melodica is a recurring feature at larger East Coast and world-level conventions. Pierre was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 1998.

Longcor: Michael “Moonwulf” Longcor has been a major figure in Midwestern filk since the 1970s; he has no fewer than ten published music albums, was twice King of the Middle Kingdom of the SCA, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2014.

Black market Tullamore: Tullamore Dew, a brand of Irish whiskey, was Bob Asprin’s preferred drink (because it was cheap, or so the story goes), a preference that he passed on to the Dorsai Irregulars and filk community both. “Tully” is a commonly mentioned in songs about the DI, about filk itself, or about alcohol.

Juanita Coulson: Filker since the 1950s and still going strong, Juanita was one of the earliest filk encouragers, welcoming and encouraging new people to filk circles. She had several early OCP albums, brought Martha Keller’s (see above) poetry to the attention of many filkers, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 1996.

Red Lions: Red Lion Hotels (now bought and owned by Doubletree) were the sites of many filk conventions, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

Badges marked with Dandelions: Kathy Mar (see below) and Lindy Sears founded the “Dandelion Conspiracy” to encourage general SF conventions to be filk-friendly and to push back against the somewhat unsavory reputation of filkers among conrunners. In Kathy’s words:  “In taking the dandelion as the filker’s symbol, I hope to convey, as gently as the flower-power movement did, that filk is almost impossible to root out. If disturbed, it tends to proliferate. It can be beneficial at times, and it can even be beautiful in spite of its weedy reputation.”

Dorsai have a Fan Club!: At the Worldcon in Toronto in 1973, various security-type duties were the purview of local rent-a-cops, who…did not mesh well with fan culture, and more critically, did not understand fan valuation. This especially manifested in their Art Show duties; a very valuable Kelly Freas painting was swiped from the show because the rent-a-cop checking receipts didn’t know enough about the painting to realize that the receipt he was being shown did not nearly cover the value of the painting the thief was claiming to have bought. Bob Aspirin (see above) decided that Something Must Be Done, and formed an organization by fans, for fans, and of fans to do various convention-running duties on a by-contract basis. He named them the Dorsai Irregulars, a reference to the Childe Cycle of boks by Gordon R. Dickson about a planet of mercenaries, the Dorsai. (The joke being, if the “regular” Dorsai were off fighting in battles, doing con security was definitely a job for the “Irregular” Dorsai.) As mentioned above, the celebration of the Dorsai’s establishment was a watershed moment for filk, and to this day many Dorsai veterans are Midwestern filkers and vice versa.

Jello in the bathtub!: At the 1974 Worldcon in DC, Joe Haldeman (presumably, hopefully, jokingly) remarked that his ultimate sexual fantasy involved a bathtub full of green jello. By the end of the con, his bathtub had been jello-ed, with a couple of naked girls for, ahem, flavor. (Or perhaps texture.) The incident got inevitably filked about, though not many of those appear to be available online.

Don’t set the cat on fire (and the rest of the chorus): A four-line version of Frank Hayes’s (see below) “Never Set the Cat on Fire” (lyrics here).

Peter Beagle: Writer of The Last Unicorn (novel and screenplay) and numerous other works; also a filker himself, with an album (cassette, of course) of his live performance at Baycon 1986.

Consonance: Bay Area filk convention since at least 1992, probably longer.

Chili cursed with sentienceBeware of the Sentient Chili by Chris Weber (lyrics here).

HOPSFA: The Johns Hopkins SF club. They put out a filkbook, the HOPSFA Hymnal, in the 70s.

NESFA: The New England Science Fiction Association. They put out the NESFA Hymnal in the 70s, too.

ConChord: A filk convention held in the LA area starting in the early 80s, and closing its doors in the 2010s due to low attendance.

The Pegasus Award: The main community award (think the Hugo Award equivalent) for filkers, given out annually at the Ohio Valley Filk Fest (OVFF) every fall since the late ‘80s.

PFNEN: A fanzine (see above) called Philk-Fee-Nom-Ee-Nom, published by Paul Willett in the ‘80s. It was nominated for a Hugo in 1984.

Ose: A common musical style of filk, for sad, depressing stuff. The joke being it’s “ose, ose, and more ose!” (As in, “morose.”) Since a lot of the folk music tradition is similarly depressing, it was inevitable.

Amway: OK, I’ll admit, I’m not 100% on this one. I suspect it’s how “Amway salesman” could be considered one of the most mundane of mundanities, as in Roberta Rogow’s song “A Use for ‘Argo,’” but that’s all I got.

Talk Like a Pirate Day: The “holiday” on September 19 every year, wherein people, well, talk like pirates. Tom Smith, see below, wrote the official Talk Like a Pirate Day Song in 2003 see here.

Dandelion Digitals: Since the Dandelion Conspiracy (see above) was a thing, it’s no shock that a label called Dandelion Digital would spring up. They put out some of the first filk CDs in the ‘90s.

Julia Ecklar and the gullsJulia Ecklar is a very well-known filker, one of Off Centaur’s (see above) most prolific artists; she has nine Pegasus Awards (see above) and also won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1991. By all accounts, she has a fondness for birds–if I’m reading this right she works at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Beyond that, I’m not sure about the gulls.

Bob Laurent: Californian filker and fan; he founded Wail Songs in the ‘80s to distribute tapes of live convention recordings, and also founded Consonance (see above) and Interfilk (see below). He was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 1996.

Asimov: Isaac Asimov, to be precise, one of the Golden Age of Science Fiction’s most famous writers. He didn’t coin the word “robot” but you’d believe he had. He also, inevitably, wrote a couple of filksongs himself back in the day.

Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff: Californian musicians and filkers with a half dozen albums (see here), a recording setup to help other filkers record quality albums, a couple of Pegasus Awards–and Maya’s an SF writer in her own right with an impressively long bibliography.

Rocky Horror Muppet Shows: There really are no words. Just a link. Written by Tom Smith (see below) and performed a couple of time, originally in 1987 and twice more in the 2010s

Frank Hayes feeling indisposed: Frank Hayes is yet another leading light of filk. He wrote the infectiously upbeat “Never Set the Cat on Fire” (see above) as well as many other songs, but he’s most known for Frank Hayes Disease: that is, forgetting his words. And causing other filkers to forget theirs. (It’s been known to happen that someone will borrow his guitar and suddenly forget lyrics they’ve had cold for decades.) Frank was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2009 and is married to Teri Lee (see above).

Bill Sutton DIY: Bill Sutton is a filker from Indiana; he and his wife Brenda have a couple of albums. Bill’s most famous song is “Do It Yourself,” which he describes as “a vintage song about vintage computing.” (“You can build a mainframe from the things you find at home,” it proclaims.)

Marischiello goodbye: Bill Marischiello was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 1996…but had died in 1986. (I’m sure it’s this because this is chronological, as see…)

Challenger!: Space Shuttle Challenger, as you’re probably aware, broke apart on liftoff in January 1986. The song “Fire in the Sky” by Jordin Kare (see below) is largely about that and the other successes and failures of the Space Program.

Final tour! What else must we all endure?: This reads like fluff that rhymes, to me.

We saw the sky on fire (and the rest of the chorus): As mentioned above, this is all based on Jordin Kare’s “Fire in the Sky.”  (Link is to the version on the album To Touch the Stars.)

Kathy Mar: Cofounder of the Dandelion Conspiracy (see above), part of the second annual induction into the Filk Hall of Fame in 1996, winner of seven Pegasus Awards, and yet another of Those Names.

Next Gen: As established, this is chronological, so we’re into the late ‘80s. Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in 1987.

Tullamore is back again: I can’t find confirmation of this, but I seem to recall hearing that Tully was hard to find for a few years in the ‘80s thanks to the Troubles.

Steve Macdonald: “Smac,” as he is affectionately known, is a member of the Dorsai Irregulars (see above), a 2006 inductee in the Filk Hall of Fame, winner of six Pegasus Awards, once administrator of the same to great effect, and is known as Gallamor the Bard at Renaissance Faires.

Elfquest: The legendary long-running comic book fantasy epic is one of those properties that filkers seem to really be fond of. There’s been an album of Elfquest filk, a songbook of filk about Elfquest, and, well, see for yourself.

Interfilk funds a guestInterfilk, founded in 1992, is an organization dedicated to the cross-pollenation of filk, by paying to send filkers to conventions in other regions. They are a registered nonprofit, and most filk cons do an auction of donated goods (rare music, songbooks, knick-knacks, food, drink…) to raise money.

Tom Smith: The World’s Fastest Filker, fourteen-time Pegasus Award winner (and 34-time nominee), 2005 inductee into the Filk Hall of Fame. Along with “Rocket Ride,” his paean to the Golden Age of Science Fiction, his most famous song is…

307 Ale: …the story of a few MIT geeks who managed to brew beer inside of a tesseract and got a liquid that’s 153.5% alcohol–that is, it has a proof of 307. (He saw 307 ALE on a license plate and ran with it.)

Lee Gold: California SF fandom, publisher of the filk zine (see above) Xenofilkia since 1988 (and still going). Inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 1997 and publisher of several posthumous filk collections (that is, collections of deceased filkers’ work; she’s still alive).

Heather Dale: Filk by way of the SCA, officially a Celtic bard-style performer with something like 20 albums to her name. She’s been at numerous filk conventions, won four Pegasus Awards, been nominated for another four.

Phoenyx, Keepers of the Flame: Celtic fusion rock band Phoenyx, founded by Heather Alexander (see below), had one album, “Keepers of the Flame.” Long out of print.

Filkontario’s Hall of Fame: The Filk Hall of Fame, mentioned extensively here; inductions happen at FilkOntario (FKO), an annual filk con–guess where.

Echo’s Children: Filk duo Echo’s Children, Cat Faber and Callie Hills, four-time nominees for Pegasus Awards for performance; Cat won seven times for writing/composing or individual songs. In addition to several songs about various tabletop RPGs they were in, and a few about other media, a lot of their songs are about…

Bab-5: Babylon 5, the TV show created by J. Michael Straczynski, which was doing long-form arc storytelling in the mid-90s in syndication. Besides Echo’s Children, a few other filkers have done songs about it; Tom Smith (see above) did a whole-show summary to the tune of Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week.”

Need a fool to feed the drive: “Fool to Feed the Drive” by Jordin Kare (see above) is a refilk of “Fuel to Feed the Drive” by Cynthia McQuillin–McQuillin being a multiple-Pegasus award winner herself and 1998 Filk Hall of Fame inductee. “Fuel,” the original, is a sad elegy about a spaceship that runs out of fuel in deep space, doomed. “Fool” points out that fusion drives use water, and humans are mostly water…

Hamlet done by John Woo: Oh, Andrew…this is a bit of self-promotion from the writer of this song, Andrew Ross. Andrew was nominated for a 2011 Pegasus Award for his song “Crispy Danish,” which is, well, a retelling of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark as a John Woo film, set to “Sheep Marketing Ploy” by Tom Smith (see above).

Marilisa Valtazanou: Oh, that’s why–he needed something to rhyme! Marilisa has been nominated for over a dozen Pegasus awards, alone or as part of a group, and helps run the annual UK Filk Convention.

GaFilk: The start of the filking New Year, GAFilk is held the first full weekend of the year in Atlanta, GA (hence the name). One of the more well established filk cons.

Urban Tapestry: Canadian filk trio of Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Allison Durno, and Jodi Krangle; they’ve won two Pegasus Awards and released three albums, and were inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2011.

Lives rich in fantasy: “Rich Fantasy Lives,” by Tom Smith (see above) and Rob Balder, is in contention for “Filk anthem” with “Hope Eyrie” (see above) and its ilk. It celebrates the joy of having more worlds than one to visit on occasion. Best sung in a crowd.

Airwalls down at Orycon!: OK, this one I can only go off of what @jenroses said: “The Airwalls at Orycon was one of those legendary disasters that ended up sparking the best filk circle I’ve ever been at.”

Firebells at Baycon!This one got filked by Bob Kanefsky (see below): it’s the mostly-true story of a massive problem at Baycon in 2002. The fire alarms kept going off. Every five minutes or so.

All night.

We didn’t start a fire (and the rest of that chorus): See above. “Kanefin’” refers to Bob Kanefsky, considered one of the grandmasters of the refilk. 2007 Pegasus Award winner for Writer/Composer and nominee for specific songs, Bob has a legendary habit of taking one song by a singer, and rewriting the lyrics (often to make it another song by that same singer)…and then convincing the original singer to sing the filk–he got verbed. To Kanef is to sing your mashup-filk parody of a specific filker’s work at said filker. He has several albums of just that. One of the greatest parodists in filk.

Blake Hodgetts, Proteins: Filker Blake Hodgetts, two-time Pegasus Award nominee for writing, has a song called “Proteins” which is a sci-fi version of one of those cowboy ballads about a cowboy who meets a Mexican girl, they get together briefly, share no language, spend the night, then they part…in his version, it’s an alien, and our lonely singer remembers too late that biochemistry mismatches can lead to anaphylactic shock…

Vixy, Tony, Thirteen: Filk duo Vixy and Tony from the Pacific Northwest, two-time Pegasus winners; their first album was “Thirteen,” and at time of writing was their only album. (Their second came out in 2016.)

Stone Dragons: Canadian filk duo of Tom and Sue Jeffers. Tom was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2012.

Moxie: Play it with Moxie is the nine-member “house band” at GAFilk (see above), which plays the annual GAFilk Banquet.

NOTE: These next two pieces discuss trans individuals, and use their “deadnames”–the names they went by before transition. In both cases, the individuals are public about their transitions and former names, so I am given to understand that this is not considered a breach of etiquette.

If it is, I apologize and will edit the post.

Zander: Zanda Myrande describes herself as “still recovering from the trauma of being Zander Nyrond for several decades,” but still gives “ house room to Zander and the rest of the deadbeats who populate her head.” Zanda is a UK filker, two-time Pegasus Award winner, and writer of the song that UK filk has claimed as their own anthem, “Sam’s Song.”

Heather into Alexander: Celtic musician and filker Alexander James Adams, the Faerie Tale Minstrel, describes himself as “the Heir to Heather Alexander,” who went to the lands of Faerie (thus invoking the “Changeling Child” tale). He has a handful of Pegasus Awards, and wrote the archetypal song of battle, “March of Cambreadth.”

Bill and Gretchen, dead mouse: Bill and Gretchen Roper, filkers from the Midwest, literally own the domain Bill has three Pegasus Awards, one with Gretchen; that one is for “My Husband, the Filker,” and includes a snippet about a dead mouse to the tune of “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

Alligators in the house: Filk about exactly what it sounds like. Written by Betsy Tinney (see below) and performed by Betsy, Alexander James Adams (see above), and S.J. Tucker as Tricky Pixie.

ConFlikt: A relatively new filk convention in the Pacific Northwest, foudned 2007.

Judi Filksign: Judi Miller is a talented filker, singer, and musician in her own right, but is primarily known in filk as an ASL translator. Many filk concerts see her at the side of the stage, signing the songs. She won the Pegasus Award for Best Performer in 2006 and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tragedy at East Hill Mine: “The Wreck of the Crash of the Easthill Mining Disaster” by Brooke Abbey (formerly Brooke Lunderville), a Canadian pharmacist and filker.

Mary Crowell: That’s Dr. Mary Crowell to you, punk! Dr. Crowell is a piano, composition, music theory, and music appreciation professor from Alabama, a four-time Pegasus winner (including once with Play It with Moxie, see above) with another dozen-plus nominations, has two albums and major parts on several more, and is one of filk’s roving accompanists; she can provide a piano backing on the fly.

Faerieworlds: A music festival in Oregon, which has featured a number of filk musicians, including S.J. Tucker and Alexander James Adams (see above) both individually and as Tricky Pixie (also see above).

Brony boys: A lot of fandom subcultures develop their own filk; Harry Potter has Wizard Rock, Doctor Who has Time Lord Rock, and yes, My Little Pony has its own filk. (Note: This was written before “Brony” stopped being considered anything except a warning sign of the Sad Puppies and the like. Look that one up yourself if you want, this is long enough as is.)

Wicked Girls: The fourth album of filker and author Seanan McGuire, six-time Pegasus Award winner. Wicked Girls was the first single-artist filk album to be nominated for a Hugo Award (To Touch the Stars, see above, did it earlier but was multi-artist), for Best Related Work in 2012. “Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves,” shortened to “Wicked Girls,” is also the central track of the album.

Britain’s Talis Kimberley: Talis Kimberley, UK filker and activist, has been nominated for 32 Pegasus Awards and won 9, released over a dozen albums, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2014.

Seanan’s Kellis-Amberlee: Under her open pseudonym of Mira Grant, Seanan McGuire (see above) wrote the Newsflesh series, in which a manmade virus called Kellis-Amberlee causes zombification upon death.  (The similarity to the sound of Talis’s name is a coincidence.)

Doubleclicks: A nerd-rock duo–they they don’t self-identify as filkers, but they’re well regarded and friends with many Pacific Northwest filkers.

Browncoats: The organized fandom for Firefly, densely populated with filkers.

Cats: One of the most common subjects of filksongs that aren’t actually about fantasy or science fiction.

FuMPThe Funny Music Project, a loose affiliation of comedy musicians that has considerable overlap with the filk community (including Tom Smith and the Great Luke Ski, among others).

Toy BoatToyboat, a hard-rock filk band from the Midwest.

Release the Cello: An album by filker and cellist Betsy Tinney (see above).

Sasquon: Sasquan, the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention, which was the current con when this song was written.

ThorThe God of Thunder, Mighty Thor! This probably refers more to the Leslie Fish song, though–she was doing that sort of thing before the Marvel Cinematic Universe made that version a household name.

Pass another Tullamore: Tullamore Dew (see above).

for the longest bardic: At filksings, “bardic” refers to a style of turn-taking in which the opportunity to sing and/or play (or, in some variations, request a song of someone else) progresses around the circle in order.  This contrasts with “chaotic”, a style in which there are no set turns and anybody can request to perform next.

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