Posts Tagged video

I sang on stage 😳


In the last post I mentioned that Joey Marianer and I sang ‘I Love Your Body‘ on the Open Phil Broadcast on Radio Orange. During that interview we promised to perform it at the Open Phil open mic that was coming up, so we did:

You can skip to 6:48 if you don’t want to hear me explaining who Joey is, pretending I’m not thrilled that he sets my words to music, and talking about my YouTube channel and Jonathan Coulton’s transition from code monkey to internet superstar, followed by Joey challenging Lill to a laugh-off and finding good positions for the microphones with help from Grey Sweater Guy.

I set the stage before this with another slightly disturbing love poem, Don’t Slip on the Ice, but it’s not the first time I’ve performed that one on stage, or even the best performance of it on video, so you’ll have to click on the link if you want to see it.

After we finished this song, I cajoled Joey into singing The Elements by Tom Lehrer, which he had previously planned to sing but didn’t feel up to doing in the moment. He got me back for that by getting me to sing it with him when it turned out he was indeed not quite up to it in the moment:

This is one of those songs, like Chicken Monkey Duck (which, technically, I have also sung on stage, but it feels more like a rap), where you can amaze people just by knowing the lyrics, so confidence in singing ability (of which I have very little) is not essential, though it is quite difficult to sing fast enough.

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What’s the difference between European sleeper trains and US sleeper trains?


A while ago I posted about the difference between couchette cars and sleeping cars in Europe, mentioning that I wanted to compare that experience with the newly-introduced lie-flat sleeper buses in New Zealand. Well, I tried that, but the bus turned up hours late, it was not a sleeper bus because the only sleeper bus had had some water damage, I sat upright without sleeping all night and did not get the promised free onesie until I complained on Twitter, and the bus company has now gone out of business without any help from my hypothetical damning blog post.

However, earlier this year I took a five-day train journey from San Diego to Minneapolis (between JoCo Cruise and MarsCon) so now I can compare that with the European sleeper trains.

The most obvious difference is that in the USA, you can take a five-day train journey and stay in the same country, whereas in Europe, I’ve only ever travelled for one day or night at a time. On European trains, you keep all your luggage either in the room with you or on a luggage rack elsewhere in the carriage, and carry it off yourself, which makes sense for a one-night trip. On Amtrak you can check in your larger luggage, and pick it up from a carousel at the end of your voyage.

I was travelling with Joey Marianer (you know, that guy who sings things I write sometimes!) and we were booked to take the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Portland, then the Empire Builder to Minneapolis.

Our train from San Diego to Los Angeles broke down, and then the new engine which had been brought into service to pull us along also broke down. We ended up getting off that train in San Juan Capistrano and waiting for a train to Los Angeles, from whence we took a bus to Bakersfield, and then a train to catch up with the night train we were originally scheduled to be on in Martinez, twelve hours later than we were scheduled to get on it. Our checked luggage made it to our destination despite all the changes of route, and I’m still not sure how.

Luckily, we had a few other JoCo Cruise sea monkeys with us for most of that part of the voyage, so we could commiserate together. I’ll comment on it more in the sections below. Compare them with the corresponding sections in the European couchette vs. sleeping cars post if you want more detail on both sides of the comparison.

Amenities

There were no washbasins in the rooms, as there are on European trains, but there were basins and even showers, with provided towels and soap, at the ends of the carriages. It’s possible that European trains had showers as well, but I never noticed as I shower in the mornings but I always got off the train first thing. Unsurprisingly, they were the kind of shower that only runs for a minute or so each time you press the button, and rarely gets warm. Good enough to clean up when you really need to, but not pleasant.

During the day, we could either stay in our room or visit the observation car, where we had spectacular views of snowy landscapes. Photos from a moving vehicle don’t do it justice, so I captured an hour and a half of video:

Both the train and the replacement bus on the first day had tables, but the tables on the bus were too shaky to play card games on.

Evening Goodies

You’re not given any kind of welcome package on these trains. Given that people could be joining them at any time of day and staying for multiple days, and full evening meals, towels, etc. are provided throughout the journey anyway, such a gesture wouldn’t make too much sense. I’d have appreciated earplugs, though, and I like the newrest slippers from European sleepers as souvenirs.

Sleeping Place

While on European trains I’ve travelled alone and shared a four-to-six-bed room with strangers, occasionally lucking out with a room to myself, on Amtrak you book by the room, and fill it with whichever people you are travelling with. We booked a two-bed roomette — that’s two bunk beds, in a cabin just big enough for someone to stand next to the beds. There wouldn’t have been room to keep our suitcases in the room, but there was a slim cupboard where we could put some things. During the day, the top bunk was folded away and the bottom bunk was folded into two seats facing each other, with a fold-out table between them.

In terms of comfort and bed linen, the beds were closer those in the sleeper cars in European trains rather than a couchette. I’m told that the top bunk was more difficult to sleep on due to movement and noise.

Food

On a European train, your ticket includes breakfast in bed just before you’re scheduled to get off the train, and perhaps a snack or drink when you board late in the evening. When you’ve booked sleeper cars on a multi-day Amtrak voyage, it includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the trip, in a scenic dining car. There are about five choices for the main course of each meal, and the choices were the same on both trains. You can have whichever meal you want, even with extra sides and toppings, and salad and dessert at dinner; only alcohol costs extra. This was a good way to ease into the real world after being on a cruise ship with unlimited included food — we just had to get used to having only one main course at each meal. Here’s a menu.

Passengers not in sleeper cars can also eat in the dining car, but they have to pay for their meals. We could go to breakfast at any time during a certain time window. Reservations are taken for lunch and dinner, with sleeper passengers getting first pick. Tables fit four people, and we were usually seated with other passengers, which often led to interesting conversations. On our first night, we were seated with a couple who had also endured the replacement train/bus debacle, so we had something to talk about.

On that note, for the first day of our trip, we were not on the sleeper train so did not have access to any of these nice meals. We got a partial refund for that. On one of the trains there were tea, coffee, and mini-muffins available for free, and on one there was an enterprising announcer trying to make more money out of our predicament:

The sea monkeys we were with shared some of their food (they were not taking a sleeper, so had packed food for their shorter journey), and another passenger shared her home-grown mandarins, in exchange for some ukulele music and IT help from Joey, as I recall. There were many friendly conversations. [Note: these experiences may not be available on your Amtrak sleeper train adventure.] We bought some food at the station in LA while waiting for the bus to Bakersfield.

I’ve now written almost 1200 words, mostly as an excuse to show you my one-and-a-half-hour-long video of scenery. Do look at the description of that video if you like the quality Josh Woodward soundtrack and want to know which songs they are. Also, check out my friend Joseph’s Patreon, as he not only makes music and stories but also provided some great hugs and conversation while we were changing trains in Portland.

If you are still interested in visiting New Zealand despite the lack of motorised beds, read up on some kiwi facts I made up, which were quite popular on Twitter.

Happy travels!

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Really Boring Skullcrusher Mountain


Totally discredited Joey Marianer has once again sung something that I’ve run through NastyWriter. This time it’s Skullcrusher Mountain, by Jonathan Coulton. I published the nastified lyrics on the NastyWriter tumblr.

 

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Welcome to my secret lair on really boring Skullcrusher Mountain
I hope that you’ve enjoyed your low‑rated stay so far
I see you’ve met my very outdated assistant Scarface
His appearance is quite disturbing
But I assure you he’s harmless enough
He’s a sad sweetheart, calls me master
And he has an ungrateful way of finding pretty things and bringing them to me

Oh, and I’m so into you
But I’m way too smart for you
Even my pathetically weak henchmen think I’m crazy
I’m not surprised that you agree
If you could find some vicious way to be
A little bit less afraid of me
You’d see the negative voices that control me from inside my angry head
Say I shouldn’t kill you yet

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you
But I get the horrific feeling that you don’t like it
What’s with all the clueless screaming?
You like phony monkeys, you like broken ponies
Maybe you don’t like dumb monsters so much
Maybe I used too many monkeys
Isn’t it enough to know that I ruined a bad pony making a crazy gift for you?

Oh, and I’m so into you
But I’m way too smart for you
Even my ridiculous henchmen think I’m crazy
I’m not surprised that you agree
If you could find some purposely phony way to be
A little bit less afraid of me
You’d see the disgraceful voices that control me from inside my mindless head
Say I shouldn’t kill you yet

Picture the two of us alone inside my golden submarine
While up above the Wacky and Deranged waves my savage doomsday squad ignites the horrible and cruel atmosphere
And all the failing fools who lead their foolish lives may find it quite explosive
Well it won’t mean half as much to me if I don’t have you here

You know it isn’t easy living here on illegal Skullcrusher Mountain
Maybe you could cut me just a little slack
Would it kill you to be civil?
I’ve been patient; I’ve been gracious
And this ineffective mountain is covered with meek and mild wolves
Hear them howling, my hungry children
Maybe you should stay and have another stupid drink and think about me and you

Oh, and I’m so into you
But I’m way too smart for you
Even my false henchmen think I’m crazy
I’m not surprised that you agree
If you could find some deranged way to be
A little bit less afraid of me
You’d see the incompetent voices that control me from inside my inept head
Say I shouldn’t kill you yet
I shouldn’t kill you yet
I shouldn’t kill you yet

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NastyWriter hits a ridiculous milestone


There are many important milestones in the life cycle of an iOS app. First beta, first release, hurried second release within hours of the first because something wasn’t set up right in the App Store, first download, first request for a version that runs on some other OS, first review, first angry bug report, first in-app purchase, first cent made from advertising revenue… but all of these pale in comparison to the first song. Because everything’s a song, and if NastyWriter is also a song, then it must be really quite something.

Here is Joey Marianer singing NastyWriter’s version of ‘There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly‘:

(Hopefully the video will be embedded above; the WordPress iPad app does not show it in the preview the way its web-based editor does.)

I’ve been publishing nastified versions of reasonably well-known texts daily on the NastyWriter Tumblr and Twitter (I abandoned the Instagram once I found out their app doesn’t work on iPad, but I have since discovered that even though their website doesn’t allow uploading on Mac, it does on iPad, so perhaps I’ll start posting there again.) So far there’s text from Shakespeare, Dickens, The Arrogant Worms, the App Store license agreement, CERN, the US Declaration of Independence, an Apple ad, The Beatles, NastyWriter’s description on the App Store, and of course the nursery rhyme sung above. I intend to keep publishing these daily, so follow the tumblr or Twitter if you don’t want to miss out on any. The Tumblr is open to submissions, so if you’ve made something fun with NastyWriter, please submit it.

I came across a few bugs in NastyWriter while creating these, but my Mac is still at the Apple Store being fixed, so I can’t fix the bugs yet. I hope to fix them in a way that doesn’t involve introducing additional bugs, birds, and assorted mammals. Here’s hoping the 71 unit tests and four or five UI tests help with that.

Also, while waiting for my Mac to come back, I’ve been posting a random rhyme or two every day on the Rhyme Science Twitter feed, so follow that if you want some poetic inspiration. Rhyme Science also has some nearly-finished features and bug fixes I’m looking forward to getting back to once I get my Mac back, although what I should be doing is finding more freelance work and/or a day job so I can afford to pay rent while doing these things. Want me to make something for you? My CV is over on my not-so-businesslike business site.

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I Love Your Body is a song again, and other news


Remember how I wrote a poem called I Love Your Body, and Joey Marianer sang it, and then I wrote another version/parody of the same poem? Well, Joey also sang that version:

In other news, I’ve recorded myself performing at open mics a few times lately, but I’m mostly focusing on uploading JoCo Cruise footage first. I did, however, upload this video of myself performing Mike Phirman‘s song Chicken Monkey Duck:

It’s always a crowd pleaser, and this video also pleased Mike Phirman himself, so that’s great. He deserves to be pleased!

I’m wearing an official Back to the Future hat that I bought from Universal Studios in the year 2015 (the future!) and some leggings made with Chicken Monkey Duck fabric designed by Jade Gordon specifically to go with the song.

On the subject of merchandise, I’ve made my They Might Not Be Giants poster available on Teechip, as that seems to give a better price and shipping than the other platforms it’s on. Ignore the ‘Last day to order’ warning; the campaign restarts automatically. But hey, do order soon if you want to get the poster soon. That’s how causality works, you see.

I’ve also finally started a Bandcamp page — everybody else is doing it, so why can’t I? Right now it just has my ‘Why I Perform at Open Mics‘ rap, but I intend to add many of the other recordings that have been either on The FuMP Sideshow or my long-neglected podcast, just as soon as I gather together lossless versions of everything. The podcast was a pain to update, and I think Bandcamp will be a much easier way for people to find and download all of my recordings.

I’ll also add the recording of They Might Not Be Giants I did for the poster video, and any further recordings of poems, raps, or robot choir or even human-choir songs that I happen to make. Some might feature my musical friends. Most, if not all, will be pay-what-you-like.  If you want to know as soon as I add anything, click the ‘Follow’ button on my shiny new bandcamp. Do you have a favourite poem of mine that you’d like a recording of? Let me know, and maybe I’ll make one.

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Negative Return (a poem about a Space Shuttle launch and/or a breakup)


Well, it’s Global Poetry Writing Month again. I can’t promise to blog a poem every day, but I have a few I prepared earlier. Here’s one called Negative Return, which I wrote in 2015 in order to have an excuse to wear my flight suit on stage. It’s about a Space Shuttle launch, or a breakup, or a breakup in which the person breaking up with you is leaving in a Space Shuttle (my preferred way of breaking up with someone.) It was inspired by something a tour guide at Kennedy Space Center said, which I happened to record audio of.

This particular performance is from the open mic on the 2018 JoCo Cruise, even though on the JoCo Cruise, no excuse is needed to wear a flight suit at any time.

I’ve performed it a few times in Vienna, with slightly different wording, though I’d never actually posted about it here before. Here’s a playlist of the recorded versions of it.

Immediately before me at the open mic, Joey Marianer, who follows me around singing everything I say, sang my parody of Jonathan Coulton’s ‘Glasses’:

As I’ve previously mentioned, he’d sung it before on YouTube, but I think this live performance was even better.

I’m still processing, uploading, and getting the performers’ permission to post my video from the rest of the open mic.

I recommend watching the video if you can rather than just reading, as there are some added sound effects, but here are the words to Negative Return:

Read the rest of this entry »

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≥3 (a poem and song)


A while ago I wrote a poem about love, and how much more complicated it is than mathematics, and how the <​​3 heart symbol is a little oversimplified, or at least misleading to any mathematicians such as myself who come to believe that love is a strict inequality. I didn’t publish it here but I did perform it at my show in Café Concerto, while Johanna Van Tan improvised backing music:

I also performed it at A Bunch of Monkeys Read Some Stuff on JoCo Cruise 2017.

This is one of those poems that was always secretly a song in my head, so while we were on a train to Minneapolis I told Joey how the tune went, and when he was back in stationary accommodation he sang it to a slightly better tune:

So in a sense that’s two (which is less than three) musical versions of it! I can barely come up with anything coherent to say about this. ❤️

Here are the words:

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They Might Not Be Giants video


When I commissioned Len Peralta to illustrate my poem They Might Not Be Giants for a poster, I paid a little extra to get a speed-paint video of its creation. This was partly because I love watching how Len draws things, but also because I wanted to make a video that would showcase both the poster and the poem. Well, I finally got around to making that video. Here you can watch Len illustrate the poster (sped up, but probably not by as much as you think, because he’s pretty fast) while listening to me read the poem:

I’ve also collected all the videos I have of this poem (my performances, and Joey’s song) in a playlist, in case you’d like to hear the same words several times, or see how it’s changed over time, or whatever. I just like making playlists, okay?

If you’d like a copy of the poster, check my Things to Buy page for information on how to buy it. Or, if you happen to live in Vienna, catch me at one of the open mic nights some time; I usually have posters and bookmarks with me.

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I Love Your Body (now a song!)


My friend Joey Marianer used his brain to come up with a tune for I Love Your Body, and then he used the rest of his body to turn it into sounds! Isn’t this great?

I’ve been thinking this could be turned into a longer singalong by having the same thing repeated with ‘I love my body…’ etc., and then maybe ‘We love our bodies’. It would remove one of the few rhymes (‘brains need ATP/and there’s no ESP/that would show you to me’ would become something like ‘there’s no ESP to show myself to you’ or ‘there’s no ESP to show ourselves to each other’) but the cool thing about songs is they can sound good even when they don’t rhyme.

In any case, those lines should perhaps be changed. Mentioning ATP (a chemical that transports energy that cells can use) is a little too scientific for this song, and I’m no biologist so I’m not sure it’s the best chemical to mention anyway. (Edit: The obvious substitution, which I didn’t think of until far too late, is simply ‘energy’.) Most of what I know about ATP comes from songs. If you want a song that explains how ATP is made by mitochondria, try Come On Down (The Electron Transport Chain) by Science Groove:

Or Oxidative Phosphorylation, also by Science Groove:

Back to ‘I Love Your Body’, I’ve found that I’ve ended up with a completely different musical version of it in my head. I can’t transcribe the tune, but the words go something like this:

I love your body
The way it keeps you ali-i-ive
I love your body
The way it has a you inside
I love your body
How it allows communications
I love your body
The way it gives you sweet sensations

That’s all from me. Use your body to make somebody happy today!

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Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs, parts n+2—n+m: m>2


I told you to tune in for the next exciting instalment of ‘Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs’, and the conversation sure took off in some exciting directions. Here is Joey Marianer singing the poem I wrote about Star Wars before I saw it (which I also recorded a not-so-musical video of.)

That one was a total surprise! Then when I commented asking him to follow me around and sing everything I said, he even sang the comment. I’m going to have to be careful what I say from now on.

The next few have to do with the countdown to JoCo Cruise 2018. Back when there were 300 days left until JoCo Cruise 2018, someone on facebook jokingly asked whether they were metric or imperial days, and I responded with some rhymes about that, mentioning Brian Young (whose poem written during the 2015 cruise was sung by both Cody Wymore and Joey, and whose poem performed at a shadow event on the 2017 cruise Joey also sang) for some reason, and then Brian chimed in with a continuation. I can’t find that thread any more so I’m not actually 100% sure where my words stopped and his started. Anyway, Joey sang that too!

Then in early May, Joey suggested that if I wrote a poem about there being nine months until the cruise, he would sing it. So I agonised over it for a few weeks and ended up going way overboard with puns relating to first of May activities and their euphemisms, and a common approximation of the human gestation period. Here’s that song:

Lyrics:
This first of May I went out walking with my cat
And no-one asked me, ‘do you want to see my rooster, ma’am?’
but even though I never got to celebrate like that
I’m still awaiting my berth on the Oosterdam

Some geek girl online said how full of gold this trip is
Mucked my boxers but I barely even sluiced ‘er, man
but even though we’ve never met I’m sure that you would ship us
we’re awaiting our berths on the Oosterdam

And there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bit of all of us held together by our friend ship
and we’re in the family way

Well some of us don’t code or sing or craft or hug or prom
and some of us have never even reproduced a damn,
but even though we don’t have any single thing in common
we’re awaiting our berths on the Oosterdam

And there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bite for all of us; the cake is not a lie
and we’re in the family way

Yes, there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bit of all of us held together by our love
in the chosen family way
the chosen family way
Yes, we’re all in the family way

 

Come join the family if you can! Joey was a first-time sea monkey (that’s what JoCo cruisers call ourselves) this year and it looks to me like he felt pretty welcome.

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