Let It Not Be Said That I Am Not Actively Fulfilling My Obligations

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For the ukulele performance, Redshirts auction winner Brad Roberts said that any tune I favored will do. Well, this particular tune is pretty easy (four chords! Over and over!) and I know it reasonably well. So there it is.

And before anyone asks, yes, if I do make to 4th Street Fantasy as planned next year, I will take the uke with me. Along with the pie (I will actually probably make the pie once I’m there. Seems easier than trying to carry it on a plane). And yes, I will also play the uke. Bear in mind that as I know 4th Street Fantasy to be filled with actual musicians, I’ll be the idiot cousin of the musical world there. Be that as it may.

64 Comments on “Let It Not Be Said That I Am Not Actively Fulfilling My Obligations”

  1. Scorpius:

    Actually, having just been to a They Might Be Giants concert, I can state authoritatively that the accordion is the hipster accordion.

    The ukulele may be the nerd accordion, however.

  2. Shame we can’t see what your right hand is doing.

    Not that I’m suggesting anything, mind. Your look of concentration and plausible left hand movements- not to say habitual Scalzi honesty and trustworthiness- are more than enough to convince me.

  3. Ukes are great, and that was an… inspired version of Creep. :-)

    But… you didn’t pick a new JoCo song? Dissolve would definitely be an interesting choice to attempt (tough to play, though!), although I suspect you would have more fun with Good Morning Tuscon…

  4. And here I was hoping for Hendrix’s version of “”All Along the Watchtower”.

    hm. I need to win the lottery and then wait for your next fund raising auction.

    Next time, Gadget. Next time

  5. Jim C:

    JoCo’s been playing the guitar for years. I’ve been playing the uke for a few months. So that’s the challenge there.

  6. Cheesehead Matt:

    The radio version is the one I knew before the album version, so every time I hear the album version it seems wrong, you know? I may be the only one who thinks that way, however.

    Brad Roberts:

    Oh, good! Glad you enjoyed it!

  7. John, that was quite good. You have a pleasant singing voice. I like that you kept it to a more classic uke style instead of just playing it more guitar style.

  8. Is that a tenor uke? Once you get larger than the wee tiny ukes, I have a tough time telling one type from the other unless they’re side by side.

  9. I agree with Erica. You have a really nice light tenor, John. I’d like to hear you sing more.

    That said, I was hoping for a uke version of “Schism” by Tool. Oh, well, next auction maybe.

  10. Tolen Mar – I am a writer, trying to get some of my work published. I like to share my thoughts on a nearly daily basis with anyone who'll listen. You never know what I'll decide to talk about on a given day (though politics will be rare).
    Chris R.

    That was pretty good, John.

    My son walked in while that was playing and commented (in a good way) about how you were playing that ‘Abney Park’ song. I had to correct him about who played it first, though…

  11. For what it’s worth, I checked with the FAA a few years back about whether I could carry a pecan pie on the plane with me. I was told it depended on the whim of the security agents that day. Just to be clear, he didn’t use the word “whim”; that’s just what I understood!

  12. Contented Reader – Cincinnati, Ohio – I am a reader. My preferred genres are speculative fiction, science, and classics, but I'll read anything that piques my interest, including, in emergency situations, cereal boxes and instruction manuals.
    Contented Reader

    Add me to the people who are pleasantly surprised by what a sweet singing voice you have. Now I look forward to other unexpected talents you might reveal in the future.

  13. Contented Reader – Cincinnati, Ohio – I am a reader. My preferred genres are speculative fiction, science, and classics, but I'll read anything that piques my interest, including, in emergency situations, cereal boxes and instruction manuals.
    Contented Reader

    Plus: OMG, were you at the concert at Southgate House? So was I! We’re like, totally best friends now!

  14. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me

    Huh. Your singing voice is nicer than I imagined. Well done!

    Will you be painting on your eyebrows soon?

  15. Xopher:

    Ironically, my singing range is actually baritone. No one was more surprised than I when I was told that.

    And thanks to everyone for the compliments.

  16. Wow, that was nice. I was expecting some kind of comic train wreck and got a pleasant cover instead. Here’s to lifes pleasant surprises.

  17. So, I read the post on an RSS feed, saw the description (“Four chords! Over and over!”) and thought, huh, I wonder if he’s doing “Creep.”

    And indeed he was.

  18. John, to echo most everyone else, that was quite enjoyable. How about a new song once a month? (I’d say once a week but we know how busy you are…) I’d love you hear you play one of my all time favorite songs, the oft-covered “Can’t Find My Way Home.”

  19. I don’t know about their rules for pie, but a homemade Emily Dickinson Black Cake was fired into the trash can several Christmases ago. Maybe I shouldn’t have made it in a Nordicware Kugelhoph pan.

  20. I saw in the other post that Athena wanted to play a duet with you, John. What are the chances of that happening in such a way that we can sing her praises too?

  21. I was hoping that Brad Roberts would request Mmm Mmm Mmm by his band, Crash Test Dummies…..

    Turns out, it’s not *that* Brad Roberts.

  22. Umpteenth in the queue to concur: well played and sung, John!
    Thanks to you and Brad for sharing. It heals some of the week’s sadness.*
    * Brought to you in part by REM, who earlier this week announced they would be known in future as “the former band [of that initialism”, and by ITEOTWAWKI.

  23. Lovely song, and very nice singing voice. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Pee Wee-esque intro, but I certainly didn’t expect such a nice, sweet singing voice. You should do that duet with Athena, and video it, too. It is something your family will look back on and enjoy. My Dad would burst into song when I was growing up, and I would sometimes join in. I wish we had recorded it, even to cassette.

  24. I think you and AFP should duet this one some time, should you ever end up in the same city at the same time. I was a little disappointed by the radio version of the lyrics but since that’s the version you’re used to it makes sense.

  25. THAT WAS FREAKIN’ AWESOME! I admit to having that “uh oh” feeling you always get when someone you know but you’ve never heard sing before starts strumming on a guitar (or ukelele) and gets that cheesy-soulful “I’m about to start singing” expression they always get and you wonder if you’re going to be able to smile and effectively repress the involuntary cringe response that you’re absolutely sure is about to come over you. Fortunately it turned out to be the “hey, that sounds really good” response instead. Nice work. Good choice in song, too. Now you must learn Paranoid Android for us, although I suspect that might be tricky to play on a ukelele. ;)

  26. Yes, make the pie there. I can tell you from reliable 1st -hand reports that some airport security officers will let pies through, and some will not.

    So what kind are you making?


  27. Rock ‘n Roll, John!

    So, when do you do the duet with Amanda Palmer? Just ’cause, you know, she actually beat you to the ukeleli cover of that song (but not by much, and she is a pro, after all.)

    Bet you she’d do it.

  28. allisonmonkey – After 10 years together, my spouse and I are expecting a wee one. With a couple of nerdy language and science geeks for parents, the Tickle's got no chance at being normal. Sorry, kid.

    Very nice! I must learn how to modify that for mandolin – I just started a month ago, and Losing My Religion was a pretty lofty goal… At least I can play Creep till I learn the other one!

  29. Most enjoyable! Your singing was suspiciously accurate. Hmmmm…. Even pro singers usually miss a note or two when they’re “live and unplugged.” :-) The auction and the zany prizes you came up with are a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the painting.

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