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I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Entries in things i find amusing (25)


Writing, But Not What I Expected

If you follow me on Google+ or are friends with me on Facebook, you might be wondering, “What’s up with all the poetry?”

About a year ago, Gwen and I got involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a medieval and Renaissance history group that recreates most aspects of pre-1600 European life (except the Black Death). And by “got involved,” I mean that it’s now our primary leisure-time activity. We’re having a fantastic time with it, and given the breadth and depth of our activities, it’s hard to believe that we’ve only been doing it for a little more than a year. Case in point: Two weeks ago we attended a Yule celebration co-hosted by two groups in the Los Angeles area, the Barony of Altavia and the Barony of the Angels. During the feast, they held a competition to determine their respective bardic champions, i.e. the singer, musician, poet, or storyteller that each of these groups wished to represent and serve them for the coming year. At the encouragement of a friend of mine, I decided to enter, with a performance that I’d describe as storytelling interspersed with song. The result, to my utter surprise, was that I was named the next Bard of the Angels.

Now, I’d been curious about medieval poetry already, particularly because so much of it is tied to the music of the period, but this increased the urgency of learning more. So, since I learn best by doing, I’ve decided to write a poem in a period form for each day that I serve as Seraph Bard (as the bardic champion of the Barony of the Angels is sometimes styled). Each month I’m going to pick a different poetic form to experiment with. (December’s form is the rondeau simple, also called a triolet.) The genesis for each poem comes from something that day. At the end of the year, I plan to collect all of them and present them in book form to my patrons, the Baron and Baroness of the Angels.

So that should clear that up.


Link Roundup for 8 October 2012

Strange and funny things are featured on this edition of the Roundup.


A Parallel World

The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain has a cover of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” that I’m kind of obsessed with right now.

This is yet another song in the chain of musically simple pieces of that have a far greater hold on me than they should. Part of that is the narrative: The improviser in me loves the triumph of the low-status protagonist, and high school-aged me relates to it — not to the Iron Maiden part, but to the crush from afar part.

A bigger part of it, thought, is the effect of re-contextualization. My theory of humor has a lot to do with violating expectations — but just a little bit and in a coherent way. So it’s odd to hear a group of ukelele players fronted by a female vocalist perform a piece about teenage angst — and even more so to hear “Lives on my block / Drives an Iroc” in a British accent. But it’s a farce played straight, as the Ukes never let on that they’re in on the joke. It has that in common with my favorite Monty Python sketches, like The Killer Joke, Nudge Nudge, or the Cheese Shop. They’re not completely absurd; there’s an inner logic to them that makes you think there’s a world in which they’re completely normal — it’s just that that reality is slightly adjacent to our own.


Also, We Were All Wearing Silly Hats

This week I attended two holiday beer tastings: one at the Mercury Lounge last Sunday, and one yesterday hosted by one of the local homebrewing clubs. The former was moderately serious, with a beautiful printed program and several discussions about the history of the beers we were tasting. The latter — entitled the 12 Beers of Christmas — was distinctly less formal. One of the hosts, under the pseudonym of Irving Berlinerweisse, had re-written the lyrics to a number of Christmas carols around the topic of beer. So in between the “Brewer’s Dozen” (which turned out to be fifteen) beers we tasted, we sang songs like “It’s The Most Wonderful Time To Drink Beer”, “Let It Flow”, and “Simcoe the Red-Nosed Hop Cone.”

The only problem was that we ran out of songs in the first third of the event, so the organizers asked us to come up with new ones on the fly. My table’s contribution was a re-working of “I Have A Little Dreidel” that went like this:

Pitcher, pitcher, pitcher
A pitcher I will drink
And when I find it’s empty
Another one I think.

Sadly, we couldn’t come up with good enough lyrics for our favorite title, “Do You Taste What I Taste?”


She Has A Point

Thanks to the same folks who brought us Oktubafest, tonight the Mercury Lounge was filled with sounds of Christmas carols… played in four-part harmony on a dozen tubas. It was simultaneously quirky and exactly right.

One point Gwen looked around and I said, “I could see you running a place like this.”