Mara Brener in 2004.
Well-known filksinger Mara Brener died February 27 in West Covina, CA. She was Music GoH at Leprecon 30 in 2004 and one of the GoHs at Contata 2005.
She was married to Dr. Harry Brener from 1975 until his death in 2012.
A science assignment in 1970 found Mara concocting a bawdy ballad about the metamorphism of the local Tuscarora quartzite, until an emergency at NASA brought a change of course. “The Ballad of Apollo 13“ (not the song fans know by that name) earned an “A“. It was Mara’s first filksong, although she didn’t discover “filk“ for another fourteen years.
In 1984 the Breners attended their first science fiction convention; LACon II in Anaheim, for the once-in-a-lifetime Star Wars Trilogy Marathon. They chanced upon the word “filksinging“ on the schedule, and spent most of the rest of the con in the indicated room. Contacts they made there led to publication of songs by both Breners in the fanzine Filk Fee-nom-ee-non.
Mara hosted a Los Angeles Filkers Anonymous meeting within the past year.
[Via Lynn Gold.]
Filker Sheila Willis, part of the filk music group “Technical Difficulties”, has died, reportedly of a heart attack. (Exact date unknown.)
“Technical Difficulties “ with Willis, Linda Melnick and T.J. Burnside (now T.J. Burnside Clapp) won a Pegasus Award (“For Excellence In Filking”) at the Ohio Valley Filk Fest in 1989. Their recording “Come You Knights” [YouTube] is available online. The group’s legend persists – it even garnered a mention in The Drink Tank #300.
Sheila Willis also co-edited Fifth Season, a Blake’s 7 fanfic zine, and contributed art to other zines celebrating the tv show, including Southern Seven and Vault of Tomorrow.
Sheila Willis illo from Southern Seven.
[Thanks to Susan de Guardiola and Andrew Porter for the story.]
Wordnik.com’s “Word of the Day” for May 25 is “filk” –
adj. (adj) About or inspired by science fiction, fantasy, horror, science, and/or subjects of interest to fans of speculative fiction; frequently, being a song whose lyrics have been altered to refer to science fiction; parodying.
The Wordnik post takes its definition from the Wikitionary entry for “filk”.
Unlike most developments in the history of popular culture, how the word “filk” got its start is precisely known. Lee Jacobs typoed the word “folk” in the title of his manuscript “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music” intended for distribution in a mailing of the Spectator Amateur Press Society in the early 1950s. While I’ve never seen the article and can’t say what the problem was, Wrai Ballard, SAPS’ official editor at the time, feared its bawdy content could get him into trouble with the Post Office under the Comstock Laws and he refused to send it out. Ballard nevertheless enjoyed the typo, as did the others he told about it. “Filk music” rapidly became part of the faannish jargon.
Thanks to Lee Gold, we even know that the first composition to designate itself a filksong was “Barbarous Allen”, lyrics attributed to Poul Anderson, in Karen Kruse Anderson’s SAPSzine Die Zeitschrift für Vollstandigen Unsinn #774 (1953).
[Thanks to Sam Long for the story.]
UK fan Chris “Keris” Croughton lost his life in a head-on traffic accident on November 10. Best known as a filker, he was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2007.
Croughton appears in the right foreground of this shot taken at Precursor by Geri Sullivan in 1995.
[Via Dave Weingart.]
Las Vegas fandom’s own Bill Mills will be putting on a “Filk Concert” at Renovation. Bill says he and Roxie are hoping to see many old L.A. friends and SF fans in the audience. So if you’re coming to the Worldcon, please plan to spend time Saturday night starting at 9 p.m. listening to Bill perform his versions of classic filksongs like “Mary O’Meara,” “Shottle Bop,” “Ship of Stone,” “Bouncing Potatoes” — and some new ones too!
Bill will be doing programs throughout the con:
Thu 8pm – 9pm, Liar’s Panel (Game Show), A03 Reno-Sparks Convention Center (RSCC) Panelists attempt to come up with the most outrageous prevarications in an ongoing quest to best the other panelists.
Jay Lake, James Patrick Kelly, Bill Mills, Connie Willis
Fri 1pm – 2pm, Voice Acting (Panel), A16 Reno-Sparks Convention Center (RSCC), Voice acting is resurging with the explosion in audio books and podcasts. listen to a discussion among voice actors about the field.
Bob Kuhn, Ellen Klages, Bill Mills, Lloyd Penney
Sat 2:30pm – 3pm, Reading: Bill Mills, A15 Reno-Sparks Convention Center (RSCC), “No Exit” By Larry Niven and Jean Marie Stine. With introduction written and read by Jean Marie Stine
Sat 9:00pm – 9:30pm (possibly 9pm-10pm, this is still being decided) – Peppermill Hotel – Sorrento1 room, Filk Concert – Bill Mills
ConChord 23, the Southern California filk convention, will partner with Westercon 63, both to be held at the same Pasadena location over the July 4 holiday in 2010. There will be an Ace Double-style Program Book….
[Thanks to Lee Gold for the story.]
Denvention 3 is sponsoring a song-writing contest. What do you think would make a good theme song for a Worldcon – “Rocket Man”? “Hijack the Starship”? “Let’s Do the Time Warp Again”?
Well, none of those songs are eligible. No wonder they need your help! Can you write them a terrific song?
Entries must fit Denvention 3’s theme, “A Mile Closer to the Stars.” They may be original music and lyrics, or new lyrics set to existing music.
Here are the official rules: You can enter the contest in one of two ways:
- Send lyrics and an MP3 of your song to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mail lyrics and a CD or cassette tape to Blind Lemming, c/o Short Planet Productions, PO Box 13092, Denver, CO 80201
Other rules: The contest deadline is May 31, 2008. The winning song will be performed at the convention.
Songs will be judged on how well they fit the theme, quality of writing, and how well the music fits the song. Submissions may be original music and lyrics, or new lyrics set to existing music. Submissions won’t be returned. Supporting or attending members of Denvention may submit a song. The winner may, if unable to perform the song at the convention, select an attending member to perform the song. Submission allows Denvention 3 the right to publish the lyrics and perform the song at the convention. Copyright reverts to author.
If you have any questions about the contest, please E-mail email@example.com.