I was quite gratified, not just by people wishing me a Happy Birthday on LJ, but by there being so many people on my friends list who did so, either by posting in their journals, or by replying to such posts. It seems like too much work to put a thank-you in every post, so I will just thank all of you here. I try to keep that to a minimum in my own journal, so I may not return the favor, but I appreciate it.
I am more bemused by something else my birthday triggered. Last Friday (or the day after), a membership offer for the AARP (American Association of Retired People) appeared in my mailbox. 50 is the minimum age for eligibility to join this organization, and it seems they pay attention. At $12.50 per year (which ISTR was the amount), it doesn't seem all that expensive, but not just yet.
However, the offer arrived addressed to Spencer Thorndike. Now, you may not know that Thorndike is persis's surname, but still, it doesn't seem like they are paying attention all that well. I wonder what database they plucked my name (and address and birthdate) from.
The following is an edit of an announcement I sent out to some friends. If this is the first you've heard of it, this posting gives very little notice, but on the other hand, this will be visible to a lot of people, and may be read fairly promptly and reliably by many on my mutual friends list. Think of it as a spontaneity test. If this surprises you, and you can come anyway, you'll be quite welcome, but we would have a problem if more people showed up than could fit in our house.
This Saturday, March 11, 2006, I will be having a 50th birthday party at my home in Milford, MA. (My actual birthday was March 3rd.) Directions can be found at my business web site.
This event is also the March meeting of M.A.S.S. F.I.L.C., the filk club that I founded (with the help, of course, of all the members then and since) in 1990. (The formation of the club was a direct consequence of my running the filk area at Noreascon III, the 1989 World Science Fiction Convention, and David Union's insistent delusion that only I could do it.) There will be singing in our living room. We have a fairly large house, so singing is definitely optional; you can get away from it.
The party starts at 15:00. If you show up earlier, you may be impressed, either into last-minute party prep, or into the ConComm of the filk convention M.A.S.S. F.I.L.C. will run this summer, in Worcester. (The press gang works at the whim of our con chair.)
Here is an approximate schedule:
|13:00||ConCertino committee meeting|
|15:00||Scarèd Harp rehearsal (see below)|
|15:00||Party begins for those who are not singing|
|16:00||General filksinging, party continues|
|17:00||Some kind of brief birthday recognizance, since some people have to leave early|
|18:00||M.A.S.S. F.I.L.C. business meeting|
|18:30||(time approximate, based on the length of the business meeting, which I hope will end sooner)|
DINNER, followed by cake and most likely ice cream.
|25:00||We unpack the catapult and fling anyone who is still here (but not spending the night) into the blackness outside. NOTE: I will crash about midnight; our daughter, somewhat earlier (and I will read her a chapter of Chanur's Venture for about half an hour).|
NO gifts are needed. Our house is FULL.
For food purposes, we would appreciate some kind of RSVP (if you plan to attend no regrets, please), to my wife, persis (by e-mail: Persis@LoveSong.Com, or by phone), so we can estimate how many. M.A.S.S. F.I.L.C. meetings are potluck, since that scales with attendance. Persis would like to coordinate contributions for those who plan ahead, so we don't have everyone bring the same thing.
If you can't bring anything, do not panic; come anyway. As long as most people bring stuff, we will be fine. We expect upwards of 60 people, although last year, because of the blizzard, we had only 35. It's unlikely we will have so many all at the same time, of course, but we could squeeze them in.
Another reason for RSVPs is that we can take into account food allergies, if we know about them in advance. If you bring something you made yourself, please list its ingredients on a card next to it on our table.
We will provide some drinks, cups, plates, cutlery, and a few other items. In particular, Persis will make an entree, probably chicken for at least 30, and something pasta-like. She would appreciate contributions of salad, vegetables, other side dishes, as well as appetizers, to round out the meal. Additional dessert-type items will not be sneered at either. Other possibilities include munchies for the party before and after the meal, and additional entrees, particularly for anyone allergic to chicken, wheat, and so on.
This party may serve as an introduction to filk for some of you, should you choose to attend. Filk is mainly in the format of folk music, which is to say, simple songs, frequently with guitar or a cappella, usually with choruses that you can sing along with. It's a form of folk music, really, but the words and mood are often quite different from what you would probably find at a coffeehouse. We'll also sing a few folk songs and other things you probably know.
There is a lot of reuse of tunes, and an easygoing attitude about such reuse (of original filk tunes), or making your own modified version of tune or lyrics. That can be quite different from the commercial music industry. Some of filk is like MAD magazine: lyrics printed and the assumption that you know the melody (and the melody is probably a show tune or popular music). TTTO (To the tune of) is necessary when using a copyrighted non-filk tune. Some of the tunes written by filkers are quite good, but you would be less likely to know them; you might want to learn a few. There are a few hundred commercially available filk albums; we have a fairly complete collection.
We do not have many copies of any one songbook, with one exception (see below). Filkers will bring their own copies of many filkbooks, and are often willing to share. We should also have a working copier (requires repair or replacement of the one we have now), so we can make and distribute copies of a few songs.
If you can bring your copy of Rise Up Singing (available by the case), that would be appreciated.
The Scarèd Harp is sort of a filk of The Sacred Harp, which is to say that we have a book of simple, four-part harmony arrangements of filksongs. This book was compiled by Ed Stauff, who also wrote many of the arrangements and some of the songs. I have made 10 loaner copies of the book, to facilitate this; we have three of our own, and some filkers will also bring their own copies.
You can download this songbook from its web page as a PDF file. On the other hand, you can buy copies from Ed, if he has any left, which are printed 11 x 8.5, bound very nicely (lies flat) along the short edge of the paper. He sells his for $5; such a deal: the 10 that I had printed and bound cost me $6.90 each (including tax), which is why I didn't order more. The ordering instructions, such as they are, are in the FAQ at the website listed above.
It's an experiment, really; at the last M.A.S.S. F.I.L.C. meeting, it was decided that we should try (again) to work up a filk chorus, and this will be the first time we've had a rehearsal, so do not worry that there will be a bunch of people looking down their noses at newcomers (filkers mostly don't do that, anyway; it's amazing what we'll put up with from newbies and some of our slightly melodically-challenged filkers -- most of them improve quite a bit over time, if encouraged).
We have a ten-year-old daughter. You are encouraged to bring your kids, particularly if they might want to hang out with her. The house is no longer especially toddler-safe. We have two guinea pigs, two fish, and a turtle; there is nothing particularly allergenic. Four steps up, coming in, if that is a problem for you.