Category Archives: music

175K Stretch Goal – Music with Vi Hart

When I started Worldbuilders, my main goal was getting people to donate books. I’ve always considered that the heart of the fundraiser, and I spent a lot of time approaching authors and publishers, trying to bring them onboard.

But these days that’s not a problem any more. We’ve got a lot of authors who send us stuff every year. We’ve got publishers and collectors and bookstores that send us hundreds of books. Signed stuff. Rare stuff. Out of print stuff.

If I had to guess, I’d say this year we’re going to be giving away more than 50 or 60 thousand dollars worth of books to people who donate on our Team Heifer page.

That means these days, our problem isn’t getting more books (though more books is always nice). These days the challenge is getting the word out to people. Letting them know Worldbuilders exists. That’s why this year, we’ve been bringing in some geek celebrities to do some stretch goals

But here’s the thing, I know a lot of cool bookish geeks, because that’s the world I live in. But I don’t know many music-type geeks. And as for the video/youtube geeks… I know barely any at all.

So I called up Paul and Storm to see if they’d be willing to put me in contact with some folks who might be willing to help us spread the word. They agreed, and named a few names like The Doubleclicks and Molly Lewis.

“Is there anyone else you have in mind?” they asked.

“Well…” I said. “I know you’ve worked with Vi Hart in the past. If you’d be willing to introduce us….”

And I’ll be honest here. This last one wasn’t very much about Worldbuilders at all. It was more about the fact that I’ve had a huge geeky crush on Vi Hart for years now. Ever since I saw some of her videos….

So was I viciously exploiting my charity with the hope of making a connection with her? Yeah. A little bit. I’m not proud of the fact, but I won’t deny it either. I can occasionally be kind of an awful person.

Luckily Paul and Storm don’t know this. So they send a gracious e-mail introducing me to Vi. They briefly explain who I am, and mention Worldbuilders….

As soon as I read their introduction, I begin to obsess about my response. I start to think about how to be appropriately complimentary without coming across as a deranged fan. I start planning the tone of the e-mail, agonizing over how I will attempt to be enthusiastic about the fundraiser without being boring or self-indulgent.

But most of all, I’m desperately trying to think of something I can say that will make me look cool to Vi Hart.

Then, before I manage to write a single sentence, I see Vi has already replied to Paul and Storm’s e-mail. I click on the message, and it says:

Pat,

The yellow edition of The Name of the Wind that I won in the lottery a couple Worldbuilders ago is right here on my desk. I may have heard of you.

Vi

And I just sit there, stupefied. I think, “Wait. She knows who I am?”

And then I think, “Wait. She knows about Worldbuilders, too? She already knows about Worldbuilders and *donated* in the past? And won something?”

Then I think. “Hold on. Did she actually maybe just reference my book in her e-mail to me?”

And I am suddenly filled with a warm, glowy joy.

We’ve had several conversations since then, both on the phone and over e-mail. She is every bit as sharp and fun as I’d imagined. Simply said, even the few too-brief conversations I’ve had with her have changed the way I think about certain things. Which is about the nicest thing I can think to say about anyone.

To cut to the end of the story, Vi and I have decided to be bestest forever friends.

*     *     *

In the course of talking about stretch goal stuff, I mentioned to Vi that I had some lyrics lying around from the book. Songs that weren’t really songs, so to speak. Because a song without words is still music. But a song without music is just irritatingly formatted text.

I’d written the lyrics for Knackerman Knackerman a decade ago. It was kind of a round. Kind of dark with some layered meanings. I’d always thought of it as a duet for two female voices, and I remember the lyrics being pretty cool. Would she be interested in turning one of those into, y’know…. music?

She would.

So I went digging through my archives. And I found the lyrics. I remembered them being cool. They weren’t cool.

I e-mailed Vi and said I didn’t know if I’d be able to find them. Would she maybe be interested in taking a crack at Tinker Tanner?

She said she’d wait. She really liked the idea of Knackerman.

I e-mailed back and explained that I’d found the lyrics, but they weren’t any good. That they were, in fact, quite bad.

She said she’d still like to see them.

I explained I was afraid to send her these lyrics. I worried that they might make her lose respect for me. I worried that the lyrics might actually make her dumber. They might, in fact kill a piece of her brain. Maybe an important piece. Like the piece that stores the memory of fluffy kittens or the ability to taste pie.

She reminded me that we were best friends now, that it was okay.

I tidied up the lyrics a bit and sent them. I apologized for the fact that I shifted verse forms and pointed out the meter was uneven. I told her I was sorry for recklessly endangering her future ability to enjoy kittens and pie.

She replied:

Oh Rothfriend you lovely creature you don’t understand, this is a DUET, for two female voices, and it is a song, and songs that people sing do things, they grow their own special lumps and become unique, and what a lovely creature to wake up next to. Sometimes when I read a poem I can simply hear it in my head (I think I got this skill reading fantasy books. Hooray Tolkien!) and, well, ok, I’m just going to make a very quick recording so you get why the verse form isn’t a problem and then you can make edits if you want.

And the e-mail had an attachment. It was a song. She’d just… y’know… Done it.

And I thought. What the hell? What the serious hell?

About a year ago, I did a really bad magic trick for my 3 year old son. I used slight of hand and misdirection so clumsy that it would have made Pen and Teller weep tears of blood.

But it was enough to fool my son, and when he saw that I had made three blueberries disappear, he looked up at me with unalloyed awe in his expression. He looked at me and said, “Dad, you are quite a wizard!”

That’s how I felt just then, as I opened the e-mail and listened to the song. I felt awe and confusion and an almost holy fear. What sort of person can do this? I thought. Who can just look at some words and then make music out of them? Who does that?

My new best friend, Vi Hart, that’s who.

We talked more, and it changed my understanding of music. And I tweaked the lyrics again, because I’m me.

And here we are.

Thanks so much, Vi. I can’t say that big enough or loud enough.

Your new bestie,

pat

*     *     *

Please remember that these stretch goals are designed to promote Worldbuilders.

If you liked this awesome thing, please consider donating on our Heifer International Team Page. The more money we raise, the more cool things we do.

For more details about Worldbuilders, including a list of our past and future stretch goals, you can head on over here.

Also posted in fanmail, geeking out, meeting famous people, Oot, Worldbuilders 2013 | By Pat42 Responses

Stretch Goals 2013 – $25k and $50k

Worldbuilders-Logo_Web_Smaller

 This is a Worldbuilders blog.

This year’s fundraiser has taken off amazingly fast, breaking all the records we’ve had in the past.

For example, this year we raised more money in our first week than we did in the entire first year we ran worldbuilders, back in 2008.

Needless to say, this gives me a big warm fuzzy.

Another perk is that we’re hitting our stretch goals faster than ever before. So today we’re going to share a few of those:

  • $25,000 – Peter V. Brett shaves Myke Cole’s head.

This year, we wanted to make more of our stretch goals more whimsical and fun. And as you can see just from the title, Myke Cole and Peter V. Brett started us off on the right foot.

Here’s the thing. When Myke sent in his idea, I laughed my ass off and said it sounded great….

… but I had no idea they were planning to use a straight razor.

The first I heard about it was on Twitter:

Twitter convo

And this is true. Any of you who have read my blog for any amount of time know I regularly make bad decisions in the pursuit of science, mischief, or entertainment. My attempts to distil coffee, for example. Or the time I accidentally burned a pentagram onto the carpet of the house I was renting….

Anyway, the point is, I’m the person you should be talking *out* of doing something, I’m not used to it being the other way around.

But back when I used to shave, I shaved with a straight razor. I have a few very pale, slender scars from those days that I could show you if not for the beard. It’s *hard* shaving with a straight razor, and if Peter was going to try for the first time ever on Myke….

I caved. I called Peter on the phone.

But he didn’t pick up. And I knew why. This had obviously already gone terribly wrong. Peter couldn’t pick up because he had to use both of his hands to stanch the blood that was even now gushing from Myke’s head.

I left a truly incomprehensible voicemail message that was broken up with bouts of panicked/hysterical laughter. Imagine what the Joker would sound like if he drunk dialed Batman. My voicemail was like that.

Peter called me back about three minutes later. The conversation went roughly like this.

Me: Are you guys seriously using a straight razor?

Peter: Oh yeah. I went out and bought one just for this.

Myke: [In the background. Laughing.] Pat! Is that you? Send help!

Me: So you’ve really never used one before?

Peter: I watched a five minute video.

Myke: [In the background] You watched thirty seconds of a video.

Peter: I skipped some the boring bits. It seems pretty simple. You just go against the grain of the hair….

Myke: [In the background] I think he’s been drinking.

In the end, all I could do was beg them to be careful. Partly because they were in New York and I was in Wisconsin, but also because they obviously really wanted to do this.

And also because I can’t start being the voice of reason at this point in my life. It’s just too late for me.

So:

My pleading

They kept posting up pictures through the whole process, while I did the twitter equivalent of watching with my hands in front of my face, peeking between my fingers….

Ward head

And honestly, I wouldn’t have stopped them if I could. Because they’re my kind of crazy.

Friar_Myke4

No_Sense_Crying

Ooopsie

They took video of the whole thing, but it’s going to take a while to splice it all together in a pleasing way. Rest assured that as soon as it’s ready, we’ll share it around.

(Suggestions for the soundtrack should go into the comments.)

  • $50,000 – Paul and Storm Lyrically Mock Patrick Rothfuss

As many of you know, I did a couple shows with the fabulous lyrical duo Paul and Storm early in November. In our brief stint on the road, I like to think we bonded a little. Over the long hours on the road, we learned and shared and grew closer together.

We also discussed the following song….

I’m going to let it speak for itself. The tune might sound familiar, but trust me it’s a different version than the one you’ve heard before.

Suffice to say that when I heard it, I laughed my ass off.

If you know about Paul and Storm, I’m guessing you’ve already heard about their awesome Kickstarter project that’s ending in just a couple days. But you might not know that I’m writing up a short anecdote about our time on the road for inclusion in their PaulandStormonomicon stretch goal.

If you *don’t* know about Paul and Storm, and you got a chuckle out of the song up above, you might want to check them out. And if you’re looking for a good place to start, might I casually suggest their amazingly innuendo-laden-yet-playful 5th album: Ball Pit?

More stretch goals are coming folks. We have some *amazing* stuff lined up.

So stay tuned, and thanks for spreading the word…

*     *     *

Want to learn more about Worldbuilders? You can check out our shiny new website here. Or you can get all the details about this year’s fundraiser on my blog.

There are a bunch of cool auctions up right now, as well, some of which haven’t even been blogged about yet.  If you want to get in early, be sure to check the Worldbuilders eBay page.

Also posted in Acts of Whimsy, Beautiful Games, My checkered past, Worldbuilders 2013 | By Pat20 Responses

“If you believe in magic…”

Anything mysterious that you love beyond reason is a kind of magic.

That means for me, music is magic. I don’t get it. I can’t play an instrument. I can’t read music.

I can sing after a fashion, but I’m just a mimic. I hear it, and I sing it back. Besides, I’ve been out of choir for well over a decade, and my range is not what it used to be.

This means that most music falls into the realm of magic for me. Especially instrumental music. Especially the guitar.

So it shouldn’t surprise you that I love seeing when people have made music based on my books.

I stumbled on the two of these recently, and I thought I’d share them with you….

This one is exceptionally cool, you don’t see a harp guitar very often….

Share and Enjoy…

pat

Also posted in videos | By Pat53 Responses

Concerning George Martin

First, I need to officially state that on the subject of publishing big, complex fantasy books, I’m firmly in the camp of, “It takes as long as it takes.” That should be pretty obvious.

I just want to be clear that I come down firmly in Martin’s camp on this issue. Good books take a long time to write. Big books take a long time to write. Good, big books take a long, long time to write.

That said, this song is pretty fucking funny. And the video pleases the geek in me on all sorts of levels.

So as much as I’m on Martin’s side with this, I have to tip my hat to Paul and Storm and the folks at Geek and Sundry.

(With a healthy assist from Jeff Lewis, of course.)

Share and Enjoy….

pat

Also posted in videos | By Pat97 Responses

“Do You Believe in Magic?”

If you read my books, odds are that you have at least a passing interest in music.

Huh. That’s all wrong, actually.

The fact is, if you’re a human being, you have an interest in music. Not just a passing one, either.

There’s a lot of interesting research that shows humans have a connection with music so strong that you can argue for it being biological, if not downright transcendent.

Rather than ramble on about the subject, I’ll jump straight to the end where I show you something cool to illustrate my point.

If you’re interested in how deeply music gets its hooks into us. Here’s a video you really need to watch.

The video is only about 6 minutes long, but it’s really worth your time. The first minute is a little slow, but trust me, it’s well worth it at the end.

Lastly, I hope y’all can forgive the arcanely referential title of the blog. It’s a nod in the direction of the song by The Lovin’ Spoonful.

I’ll let those of you well versed *ahem* in the classics guess which part of that song I’m referring to.

Enjoy,

pat

Also posted in videos, Warm Fuzzies | By Pat72 Responses

Sharing is Caring: Garfunkel and Oates

A lot of times, I end up conflicted about the blog.

On one hand, I know most of you stop by the blog to read stuff that I write. Whether it be idle musings, furious rages, or my occasional foray into scientific inquiry. You don’t stop by here hoping that I’ll put up a link to something else.

My thought is, if you wanted to go somewhere else, you’d already be there.

On the other hand, if something brings me joy, I want to share it with people.

On the other other hand, I don’t want this blog to become an endless series of links. As if I’d suddenly become that uncle of yours that won’t stop forwarding you dirty jokes and videos of cats.

On yet another hand in this increasingly unanthropomorphic  metaphor, it’s way easier for me to post up a few links, rather than, say, write a thousand word blog. And it has the chance to make folks happy.

And then I’m left back where I started, still not sure how much or so often I should link to other stuff I think is cool.

What I typically do is ride the brake. I don’t post stuff up on here unless it’s so good I just can’t help myself.

That’s what I’m doing today. I’m sharing something that’s so good I just can’t help but bring it to you attention.

Ladies, gentlemen, and those of unaffiliated gender: I give you Garfunkel and Oates.

How much do I love them?

I love them so much that I’ve had one of their songs stuck in my head for four days now, and I don’t even care.

Which song? This song.

(It’s not entirely safe for work, by the way.)

I stumbled onto their stuff a couple months ago, and after watching a couple dozen youtube videos, I wandered over to CD Baby and bought their CD, All Over Your Face.

Okay. I’ll be honest. I bought ten copies of their CD, because I wanted to share the love with my friends.

Luckily, the CD was even better than I expected. That’s not always the case with some of the music you hear live or on youtube first. For example, I actually like Johnathan Coulton’s acoustic stuff on youtube better than the more polished, produced versions I’ve bought. Same thing with about half the Flight of the Conchords CD’s I’ve picked up.

But this CD was better than the stuff I’d already heard. I would have bought a hundred copies and given them away as Worldbuilders prizes, except I know someone’s sweet old grandma who wanted to support Heifer would have ended up listening to “Sex With Ducks” and having a heart attack.

Yeah. They have a song called “Sex With Ducks.” It’s one of the many reasons I love them.

Okay. One more video and then I’ll stop.

This one is actually a good representation of the production quality of the music on the CD. In fact, I’m pretty sure this version of the song is the same as what’s on the CD.

Okay. That’s enough, you can hunt down their other videos on your own. (Like “Gay Boyfriend” and “Pregnant Women Are Smug”)

Or, if you are a sensible person who likes cool things and likes to support artists, you’ll go and buy some of their music.

Lastly, the the true believers that read all the way to the bottom of the blog, a reminder that I’m going to be at the Fox Valley Book Festival this Thursday (April 12th.) Details, as always, are on the tour page.

pat

Also posted in cool things, recommendations | By Pat54 Responses

A Brief Musical Interlude

Occasionally someone sends me a youtube video that’s just too cool to ignore.

That said, even the really cool ones I keep to myself. I worry if I posted them up here, I’d eventually become the blog-equivalent of that guy at work that forwards you two dozen funny cat stories every day.

Still, there are a few cool videos that are book related and cool, so I feel like I’m justified in sharing them here…

Here’s a guy who showed me that you can actually play a guitar with three strings. You can play the hell out of it, in fact.

And here’s some guys that took a crack at writing and playing Tinker, Tanner.


Share and Enjoy….

pat

Also posted in fan coolness, videos | By Pat35 Responses
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