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Hannukah Spirit, part 3

December 28, 2012

At my urging, the family has produced its own version of Mattathias. Enjoy.

(For context, see parts 1 and 2 of this series.)

Hannukah spirit, part 2

December 17, 2012

In 2006, I wrote a blog post about a song called Mattathias, which my father taught to me and my brothers when we were children.  Yesterday, I received a very nice email from a woman named Sara, who is the Executive Director of a synagogue.  She had this to say:

Hi Nat,
The statement on your blog from 2006, that the first line of the song “he struck the traitor to the earth” cannot be found by googling, is now incorrect, as I found your blog!  Which is, by the way, now the only reference I could find — other than a family video on YouTube…
I went through most of Hanukkah this year trying to remember the song.  Everyone I knew (and I’m the Executive Director of a synagogue) thought I was nuts, until our community-wide Hanukkah party on Friday night.  The only other person who knew the song is our song-leader — it took a professional to recognize it!  And on Shabbat morning, she brought in a book whose cover I recognized immediately, called “The Songs We Sing” by Harry Coopersmith, published in 1950 by the United Synagogue Commission on Jewish Education.  This fits with my childhood in Brooklyn, where I attended the East Midwood Jewish Center Day School.  East Midwood was (still is, I think) a large Conservative shul with Hebrew school and day school.  (The song is titled “Mattathais,” thus my subject line.)
So, thank you for posting the song on your blog six years ago.  The only difference in lyrics from those published in the book are in the last section:  “To die, and yet today they live; Far down the centuries’ flowing sea…That beacon sword!  Hear that strong cry…”  And unless your father sang it prior to 1950, I imagine that he learned at the Fairmount Temple, but that it didn’t originate there.
All the best and belated Chag Sameach.

Thanks very much, Sara!

So, new information: the song dates back to at least 1950, and probably earlier, given that it was published in a song collection by then.  Apparently my father’s lyrics correction may actually be incorrect, despite (in my opinion) making more sense.  I guess “flowing sea” does make more sense than “flaming sea,” though.  Who knows, the imagery in the song is a bit odd to begin with.

And here’s the family video she mentioned:

Here comes the story of the HurriCon

August 29, 2011

I went to 6Pi-Con!  It was fun.  Con report over.

OK, yeah, I’m a bit too long-winded for that.  So, rough summary, in bullet-point format:

  • Attendance for 6Pi-Con was way down, which is understandable considering that Hurricane Irene was projected to pass right over the hotel.  So the con felt a bit lonely at times, but overall the con staff and the hotel did a heroic job of adapting to the situation.  They even organized a track of programming for after the con officially ended on Sunday, in case people ended up trapped in Enfield.
  • Probably the highlights of my weekend were attending the two workshops run by the music guests of honor, Heather Dale and Ben Deschamps, as well as their concert on Saturday.  Ben did a workshop on guitar technique on Saturday morning, and Heather did a performance workshop on Sunday morning.  Heather and Ben are both lovely people and awesome musicians, and it was great to meet and hear them.  Also, Ben absolutely saved our asses on Sunday.  More on that later.
  • Sandry and I ran Time Travel Review Board on Friday night.  While the turnout was small, the game went pretty well, I thought.  I hadn’t previously imagined it was possible to run this game with 6 players, and while much of the content of the game doesn’t come out that way, the game still works reasonably well and is a pretty similar game to the way it runs with a full cast.
  • I attempted to play in Kat, Josh & Allan’s new vampire LARP on Friday night, but they didn’t meet their minimum.  It looks like a fun game, though, and I hope they end up running at Intercon or Festival.
  • I sat on four panels!  LARP 101 was extremely well-attended, and was, IMO, the best LARP 101 panel I’ve seen at Pi-Con (and the third one I’ve been on at Pi-Con).  Filk 101 was a lot of fun, and while I felt like a bit of an amateur on the panel (especially considering that Heather Dale was in the audience!), the discussion was lively and we even played a few songs.  SMOF 101: Intro to Conrunning was a good panel, but I felt a bit superfluous sitting next to Michael and Jeff, who really could have done the panel on their own.  My last panel was Borderline Sci-Fi, which I moderated.  I honestly did not think I did a great job with this one; the panelists were two professional authors and I think I asked some good questions and some stupid questions.
  • On Saturday night, Conor and I hosted the Intercon L party!  This was pretty much the typical Intercon party we’ve always tried to run at Pi-Con, which is to say, a chill hangout zone with snacks, Intercones and without a lot of pressure to come to Intercon.  If anyone’s curious, this year’s flavors were Blue Raspberry, Orange-Pineapple, and Mudslide.
  • I was theoretically one of the leaders of the Bawdy Song Circle, but truthfully that thing doesn’t need a lot of leading.  I was sad to have to leave it halfway through to go back to hosting the Intercon party.
  • Finally, we had the Stranger Ways 2.0 concert on Sunday.  We were a man down on this one, since due to a confluence of the weather and his wife being very pregnant, our bassist Jon couldn’t make it.  Fortunately, music guest of honor and god amongst men Ben Deschamps saved our asses, filling in on guitar during La Llorona (which in its SW2.0 arrangement is a bass-driven song).  The concert was a lot of fun to play, and while it would have been nice to have had the bass, I think we sounded pretty good nonetheless.  Harold Stein recorded audio of it, so I’m hoping to get that posted for y’all to hear soon.
Oh yeah, and I wrote a song about the con.  It’s a somewhat appropriate song parody, and it’s called “Irene”.  You can find the lyrics here.
As always, I’m very grateful to the Pi-Con staff for making this awesome con happen.  It’s become one of the highlights of my year.

Resonance and Stars Over Atlantis on Saturday July 23!

June 22, 2011

Dia de los sobres flyer

Everybody knows that summertime is the dead season for larp. But it’s tough to go through all those months without a single packet to open. That, friends, is why Alleged Entertainment and Paranoid and Crotchety are teaming up to bring you Dia de los Sobres, or the Day of the Envelopes, a doubleheader production offering you two great packet-packed larps on the same day! Alleged’s RESONANCE and P&C’s STARS OVER ATLANTIS will run one after the other on Saturday, July 23rd in Fitchburg, MA.

If you’d like to sign up for one or both of these great larps, click on over to sign up at:

By Nat Budin, Susan Weiner, Vito D’Agosta, and Phoebe Roberts
An amnesia and storytelling larp about tragedy, desperation, and the apocalypse.
11AM to 4PM

By Liliya Benderskaya and Tory Root
An amnesia LARP about tragedy, sacrifice, death, guilt, karma, love, sex, gender, and forgiveness.
5PM to 10PM

A Filk Song Supposedly About A Webcomic

January 19, 2011

Ariela sent me an email this morning asking for the lyrics to the filk song I wrote at Arisia this past weekend, which reminded me that I’d meant to post them here.

A bit of explanation: one of the guests of honor at Arisia ’11 was Shaenon Garrity, artist of Skin Horse.  It’s a web comic about what Ariela described to me as “a covert-ops social services organization for metahumans,” which I think sums up pretty much what I know about the comic.  Ariela had asked me to play guitar and lead some songs in a Skin Horse filk singalong session at Arisia, which I did along with her and Happy Fun Paul.  It was a lot of fun, and I got to learn some new songs on the guitar.

On the way to the session, some words started bouncing around in my head, and I realized I had a songworm.  For a song about a webcomic I knew virtually nothing about.  Well, this was the result.

Song lyrics used to be in this post; however, I decided this blog needed a “songs” section.  So now it is there, along with several other songs I wrote or co-wrote.

Concert! Album!

January 18, 2011

OK, this probably merits the rare post on here.

My band, Stranger Ways, played our second gig ever this weekend. We did a joint concert at Arisia 2011, a Boston sci-fi convention, along with our friends Sassafrass, an awesome a capella group. Susan and I estimate we saw about 120 faces there, and if I do say so myself, we rocked them all. :)

Seriously though, it was an absolutely exhilarating show. It was the day before yesterday and I’m still on a high. The crowd was fantastic, and being up on stage with Sassafrass, doing new supergroup-style arrangements, was truly an honor. YouTube videos coming soon on our band channel!

The concert marked the release of our first album, Strangers at the Gate. We had CDs and download cards available for sale at the show (thanks Vik!) and also at the Foam Brain Games booth in the dealers’ room (thanks Andrew!). And now, we also have it available for purchase at our site.

This concludes your irregularly scheduled shameless plug. We now return to blog silence as per standard operating procedure.

Help us put on the next run of The Labor Wars!

July 20, 2010

Alleged Entertainment’s first weekend-long LARP, The Labor Wars, had its debut run in June.  We’re now in the process of revising the game based on player feedback and our impressions of the run.

Hopefully, we will be putting on the next run of the game in November of this year.  To do that, we’ll need a house to run it in.  If you host the game, you get a guaranteed spot in it as well as a bunch of other goodies!

Interested?  Check out the full post about it at the Alleged Entertainment blog!


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