The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings for May, 2008

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Earlier, along the riverwalk on the way to today’s show at the Catgirl Island Center for Purrforming Arts…

Mike:
Not much further. Okay here’s one-

Lightning Round #1: our favorite Charlton Heston movies

Lizzy goes first!

Elizabeth:
Oh gosh… ah… Ben Hur… The Ten Commandments, and… Planet of the Apes! (tags Jeannie)

Mary Nyan:
Which version of Apes?

Elizabeth:
The first one.

Jeannie:
I’ll also pick Ben Hur and Ten Commandments, and The Agony and the Ecstasy. (tags Mary Nyan)

Mary Nyan:
Oh that’s easy- Planet of the Apes- the original one, The Omega Man and Soylent Green!

Elizabeth:
It’s not just for breakfast any more!

Yvonne:
Now I’m hungry nya!

Mary Nyan:
(tags Yvonne) Tag- your turn!

Yvonne:
Purr-obably Planet of the Apes, and the Musketeers movies, nya! Mike’s turn, Mike’s turn, nya!

Mike:
Definitely Planet of the Apes- the original version; Ten Commandments, and I really like 55 Days at Peking!

Jeannie:
Heston was very important, not just as a legendary thespian, but as a veteran of World War Two and a social activist.

Mary Nyan:
Hai, Well here we are- this place sure is big!

Elizabeth:
I haven’t been in here since they finished the new section.

Jeannie:
The proscenium arch is the biggest in the Carolinas. I want to climb to the catwalk.

Mike:
Hey, we could do the Purple Gorilla skit on th-

(all four catgirls in unison, with glaring tails, pointy kitty fangs and sternly perked ears)
OH NO!

Mike:
Just kidding!

Yvonne:
We’d better go in and purr-pare for the show- where do we change at, nya?

Mary Nyan:
I will need help with my kimono!

Mike:
In the Dogwood Dressing Rooms- follow me!

(and now –)

Aloha Y’all! Catgirl Island www.catgirlisland.net & Clan of the Cats www.clanofthecats.com purr-sent a Mike Moon purr-duction of

The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings for May, 2008

Mike (the catgirls’ purr-ducer):
(black tie) Welcome back! We’re starting this special show from the Catgirl Island Center for Purr-forming Arts newly renovated Anthurium Atrium, under the new beautiful glass dome amidst the gorgeous Spring foliage… and speaking of pretty sights,

here are the ladies of The Mew-

Elizabeth:
(Lizzy’s a lovely looking lass in a little black cocktail dress) Hi Hi!

Jeannie:
(quite cutely clad the catgirl in a crimson qipao) Nihao!

Mary Nyan:
(captivatingly clothed in a colorful kimono) Konnitiwa!

Yvonne:
(certainly such a sexy saree she’s wearing) Nameste, nya!

Elizabeth:
Ooh I like what they have done with this place!

Jeannie:
It is quite nice!

Mary Nyan:
These cascading falls use purr-ified recycled water!

Yvonne:
(cannot resist pawing at the palm fronds)

Oooooh Fashion / We are the Moon squad and we’re…

Elizabeth:
That saree color looks good on you, Vonny!

Yvonne:
it’s a champaign chiffon, nya! Your cocktail dress is nice, nya!

Elizabeth:
Thanks Von!

Jeannie:
The neckline plunges down quite far!

Elizabeth:
Yes, but fortunately I have fashion tape to keep everything in place!

Jeannie:
The saree sequins look nice against the embroidered blouse, Vonny.

Yvonne:
Thanks nya! I like your Chinese dress too- the floral pattern is very festive, nya!

Mary Nyan:
Is that a quipao or a cheongsam?

Jeannie:
I have heard it called both, but the sales clerk told me that purrticular style is a halter-neck quipao. It is short so my tail is not confined.

(swishes her tail)

Mary Nyan:
Purr-haps i should have worn something simpler like that- Lizzy had to help me put all this on It is a bit tail-confining though!

Elizabeth:
Yes but you look gorgeous, hon!

Jeannie:
That kimono has many layers- you must be hot!

Yvonne:
Mi-ike… does that white dinner jacket reverse out into a black wetsuit?

Mike:
No…

Jeannie:
A Neoprene lining would be rather warm.

Mary Nyan:
But it’d sure look cool!

Mike:
(ahem) Well we’re not puttin’ on the ritz for a fashion show or to blow up an underwater crime league, but for our-

Our Giant Size 1st Anniversary Show and Mewsic Special!

(all four happy catgirls in unison)
YAY!

Elizabeth:
Wow, a whole year already! How will we commemorate this?

Jeannie:
There should be cake.

Yvonne:
Cakey cake, nya!

Mary Nyan:
(Looks at Mike, waiting)

Mike:
Tonight after this special edition we and our guests will get a special luau dinner at The Kitt Inn!

(all four voracious catgirls in unison)
YAY!

Mary Nyan:
I’m gonna hula!

Mike:
OK let’s get started with The Mew? Lizzy, care to go first?

Elizabeth:
Hai! This month’s edition will be a bit different and twice as big, as we are conduct more interviews, with various folks regarding their mewsical purr-fession or hobby, so this is our most extensive interview session yet!

Jeannie:
We had so much fun with purr-evious interviews that we wanted to do it again, but next month we’ll be back to the mewsual format of reviews, recommendations and discussions of recent science fiction, fantasy & horror movies, TV, comics, books, toys & games!

Mary Nyan:
Vonny will be interviewing Phil Lee on his purr-ticipation in Triangle area fandom, writing mewsicals for Animazement, and work in college radio! Later in the show she’ll be chatting with Jeff Branch about J-Pop and his huge web site Pink Lady America!

Yvonne:
JenJen’s gonna be interviewing the trio Three Quarter Ale, nya!

Jeannie:
Lizzy will be out back in the outdoor Azalea Ampitheater interviewing guest Jamie Robertson on his mewsical interests and how that brings inspurr-ation to his own artistry and Clan of the Cats!

Elizabeth:
- and we’ll be going to Myayr, who’ll be discussing Klingon culture & Karaoke with Capt. Keela sutai-Septaric, and later talking to Lisa Kyle about her own exciting mewsical career!

Mike
Our guests are waiting in the Rose Room, so let me see if they are ready while you catgirls head to your respective locations! Vonny- you’re on next!

(all four determined catgirls in unison)
Hai!

(Soon, Vonny & first guest Phil are in the Center’s Amaryllis Auditorium sipping nummy drinks, moments away from the next segment. While Vonny adjusts her microphone, Phil is looping a yo-yo)

Mike:
Vonny, you ready?

Yvonne:
Hai!

Phil


photo courtesy of Phil

Philharmonic: Yvonne’s Interview with Phil Lee

Yvonne:
I’m in the Amaryllis Auditorium here at the Catgirl island Center for Purrformign Arts to interview special guest Phil Lee http://ibiblio.org/phil/ , nya!His involvement in North Carolina’s Triangle area fandom is quite extensive, known to generate a wonderful ambience of fun & enthusiasm, nya. He’s been a longtime member and officer of UNC’s friendly anime club Carolina Otaku UPrising
http://www.unc.edu/coup/ At North Carolina’s ever-growing anime convention Animazement http://www.animazement.org/ he’s helped run the dance, mewsic video contest, and continues to direct the event known as Anime Hell http://www.animehell.org/ and has written three mewsical purrductions at Animazement, nya! Surprisingly, the Tarheel volunteers down the road at rival Duke University, in Durham where he is the Training Director for WXDU 88.7 FM http://www.wxdu.org/, nya! Welcome to Catgirl Island, Phil, nya!

(Starts to paw at the string on Phil’s yo-yo, but then tries to act more purrfessional)

Phil:
Howdy! Pleased to meet you! (Casually finishes looping the loop and sets the yo-yo aside.)

Yvonne:
So you were a staff member of TAAS, officer of COUP, staff member of KatsuCon, con manager of Chimera Con, and run Anime Hell at Animazement- did I miss a spot, nya?

Phil:
I think you’ve covered just about everything in terms of my involvement with local and regional fandom, with a couple of minor corrections. I was never a staff member of TAAS per se, I just hung out with the staff during several periods of the club’s history. Also, my title at Animazement is currently Entertainment Coordinator, so my involvement there goes beyond Anime Hell.

Yvonne:
Chimera was about science fiction in general, whereas TAAS and Animazement were anime specific… how would you otherwise compare n contrast ‘em, nya?

Phil:
Aside from the more specialized focus of the anime clubs and conventions, they’re not very different from traditional science fiction fandom. Like Chimera, TAAS and COUP both have regular weekly meetings and attract a very similar crowd – folks who enjoy anime and video games, but who almost certainly also enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy, playing role-playing games, and participating in all the sorts of activities that has been the purview of traditional fandom. The excuse to get together and hang out is anime.

Meanwhile, Animazement is structured very like a traditional SF convention. We sell memberships rather than tickets, as we encourage our attendees to be involved with the convention beyond mere spectating, with panels for members to particpate in and many fans running events themselves. Several events are straight out of a traditional convention (the costume contest, for example) and even things that are more anime oriented (such as the anime music video contest) would be right at home at a media fandom convention.

Yvonne:

COUP seemed complex in that it spun off other fun sub-groups such as GLOCK- could you describe those?

Phil:
This all started as a gag when my friend Tamar Pandi and I came up with the idea of the UNC Kendo Club as an excuse to take our bokken (wooden Japanese practice swords) and tote them around campus. This was mostly just an in-joke, but one that we introduced to the then new Carolina Otaku Uprising. This resulted in COUP stalwart David Smith and myself waving our bokken around enthusiastically during our favorite opening sequences and such.

However, what really got sub-groups going was a showing COUP had of the first Gall Force movie. Parts of Gall Force are more than a bit gratuitous and the women in the club were not impressed, at which point I suggested that they organize a showing of shounen ai material in retaliation. This idea was seized upon by Jennifer Thomas, who wrote up a manifesto in favor of equal time for pretty boys in love, earning her the title of The Great Tyrant, leader of GLOCK, which went on to have regular meetings for many years. As I recall, I helped contribute to the name – Gorgeous Ladies of COUP, as in the old wrestling franchise – with the K for “Kenshen chapter” being added to help make the acronym suitably militant.

The most prominant COUP sub-group was formed somewhat later when some of the club gamers formed the Carolina Otaku Role-Playing Society of Evil (or CORPSE) as a mailing list to organize role-playing groups. This expanded when someone had the idea for a board game night, which quickly became the main focus of the group and grew to have nearly as many attendees each week as COUP itself. Game Night still happens every Saturday in the UNC Student Union from around 8pm until the wee hours. You can learn more at http:/www.unc.edu/phil/corpse if you’re so inclined.

Yvonne:
Both are anime cons in the south, but how does Katsucon’ flavor taste different from Animazement’s, as nya?


Phil:
As I haven’t been to Katsucon since Katsucon 3 and they’re now up to Katsucon 14, I can’t really comment on the differences between it and Animazement. That said, a quick peak at their website tells me that they’re certainly larger with 6,300 attendees in 2008 compared to the 4,500 that attended Animazement in 2007, and that Animazement has a much greater emphasis on Japanese guests.

Yvonne:
Animazement definitely has much in way of mewsic programming, nya… taiko drummers, seiyou guests, J-pop discussions, mewsic videos, late night dances, Anime Hell, and three mewsicals.
You’ve purrsonally helped to orchestrate the latter four- could you expound upon those please, nya?

Phil:
Sure thing. My original position with Animazement was the cosplay coordinator which quickly expanded into the role of a general entertainment chair. This lead to my taking on responsibility for many major events, including the anime music video contest, karaoke, Anime Hell, and even the dance. I found myself running these events in much the same way I got involved with cosplay originally – I was the Animazement staffer with the most interest in them. I wound up in charge of cosplay by the simple fact that I had actually participated in the costume contest at conventions before and was the defacto expert. When we needed someone to take over the Anime Music Video contest, I volunteered for the gig as I had been keeping up somewhat with the AMV scene. After running it for the first few years, Dave Merrill, creator of the Anime Hell concept, was unable to attend Animazement one year and, as I had copies of much of the Hell footage obtained from Merrill already (as well as some secret Hell weapons of my own), I jumped in and wound up taking over the event from that point on. And so on and so forth.

Yvonne:
The anime mewsic video contest draws a huge audience, nya. Could you discuss how those are submitted, screened and judged?

Phil:
In the early days of Animazement, all videos submitted had to be sent in on a video tape, where they would then be copied over onto a master tape to be shown at the contest itself. This was a pain in the butt for all involved, but was the way of things for many years. Today, we live in a more enlightened age of digital video distribution via the internet, so virtually all the entries we receive are simply uploaded to a website. Then the heroic William Bloodworth, our current AMV contest coodinator, makes sure all the videos work and strings them together with titles into a single file. He hooks his laptop up to the projector system in the main events room at the convention itself, hits play, and, voila! Instant contest. Well, reasonably instant. As we recieve far more videos than we can actually show, William chooses the best videos to be shown during the actual contest, with later screenings to feature the other videos that were submitted.

Animazement has always relied on a panel of (somewhat) expert judges to determine the contest winners. They’ll watch the videos during the contest, then retreat to a room to review the videos and discuss their favorites. In the past we gave out three ranked prizes (which got cash money) plus three honorable mentions (who had to make do with a certificate) but William recently moved towards a non-ranked system where videos the judges are impressed with are given names (i.e. Best Catgirl Video) and a prize without having to worry about ranking the videos. The winners are then shown during the costume contest judging.


Yvonne:
What are some of your all time favorite anime mewsic videos, nya?

Phil:
Alas, a lot of AMVs I was first exposed to just aren’t available online to show off. However, a couple of later well-known favorites include “Failed Experiments in Video Editing” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0B3eysqpMA, a parody of the AMV creation process and the delightfully tasteless Pokemon video set to “Bitches” by Mindless Self Indulgence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOyb-fqnN28. I was also introduced to some terrific videos at Animazement, such as the Hello Kitty “Mortal Kombat” video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFBHPbEtfqA, the Bubblegum Crisis parody “The K-Team” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJcL2x7OWrs, and, perhaps my favorite AMV of all, the Avalanches song “Frontier Psychiatrist” set to Black Heaven http://www.ibiblio.org/phil/fnordchan/frontier-psychiatrist-black-heaven.mpeg It’s structured similarly to the song’s original music video and really captures the absurdist joy of it all.


Yvonne:
Mine are Miyazaki’s On Your Mark, Daft Punk’s One More Time, and Daicon’s bunny girl videos- whatcha think of those, nya?

Phil:
While I wouldn’t consider those to be AMVs per se, they are great examples of professionally made music videos with original animation. I adore the Daicon III and IV videos and the other two are top notch. Other favorites in that category include the “Jesus Christ Love For You” video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHf1lmJT0Pofrom the shounen ai video compilation Bronze Cathexis (which I like more than I probably should thanks to the incongruous title and the inexplicable beep about a minute and a half in), Doping Panda and M-Flo’s “She Loves The Cream” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3lGKBSAp7I and especially the classic X Squared video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP5bgl4fzeA, a short pilot animation for the CLAMP manga series X with music by the speed metal band X-Japan. Alas, that video turned out to be signficantly better than either the X movie or TV series.

Yvonne:
Have you ever made your own mewsic videos, nya?

Phil:
No, though I came close. While I didn’t have the experience or equipment to edit a video myself, I did try working with someone else to edit the soundtrack of the old Looney Tunes classic “The Rabbit of Seville” to the X movie. Alas, we got halfway through the project on a shared machine on campus at which point the footage was accidentally deleted and that was that. Ah well. I’ve got other video ideas and perhaps I’ll even get around to them someday, but I dunno when.


Yvonne:
What was your purrticipation in the late night dances, nya? (Eyeing that yo-yo)

Phil:
(Moving the yo-yo further away from Yvonne) After a few years, we kept having the same two complaints about the dances at the convention: either there wasn’t enough anime music or there was too much anime music that you could dance to. I looked at my music collection and saw that I had a fair number of anime tunes you could dance to, said to hell with it, and volunteered to run the dance. Things went okay, I seemed to hit the right balance between cartoon soundtracks and something suitable for shaking booty, and for the next few years I was in charge of the convention dances. They seemed to go over fairly well, and one year in particular went over like gangbusters, so despite my lack of a club DJ background I think I did okay. However, as of a few years ago I realized that I wasn’t keeping up with what the audience wanted, at which point I yielded the floor to new DJs who had a better handle on things.

Yvonne:
What kind of mewsic do the kids at Animazement wanna dance to, nya?

Phil:
We currently run two dances at the con. The first is a J-Rock music video dance, where staffer Iris Chen puts on videos of androgynous men playing mildly angsty Japanese pop music. This goes over quite well, even if it isn’t your typical club fare. Second, we’ve got a new Saturday night DJ, DJ Amaya, who will be spinning techno, trance, house, and J-pop. I’m looking forward to hearing him perform.

Yvonne:
Let’s talk about Anime Hell, nya! It is another big event at Animazement, nya. It seems to be a quirky marathon of various instructional films, mewsic videos, cartoons, TV clips, trailers, and so forth, nya.

Phil:
Or, as animehell.org says, “Animesploitation Terebi Funhouse Road Show Otakalypse.” You an get the full run-down from the Anime Hell manifesto, but here’s the short version: http://www.animehell.org/2004/07/animehell-manifesto.html Originally, Dave Merrill ran Anime Hell as a late night event at DragonCon where he’d show comedy anime, fan parodies, and the like. As he got bored with just sitting there for six hours he started to show shorter clips and throw in more patter, which evolved into the Hell everyone knows and (presumably) loves today: the video clip show of the damned.

Yvonne:
How long do you spend planning an Anime Hell? How much footage do you go through until you filter it down to the right mix, nya?

Phil:
Preparing for Hell is a year-long event in many ways, as I’m always keeping an eye out for suitable (read: weird, but not overexposed) material to show. I’ll poke around in certain nooks and crannies of the internet on a regular basis to see what pops up while also keeping an eye out in used and thrift stores for old videos that might be suitable. As I find clips that look interesting, I track down the best possible quality copy I can find, set it aside, and take note of it.

A month or so out I’ll start to sit down and actively review material, putting together a rough playlist, screening material for friends to see how they react, and so forth. Last year we also also began working on digitizing as much footage as possible, so we don’t have to spend as much time trying to cue stuff up or working from old VHS source. We didn’t get very far then, but hope to make a decent go of it this time around. All in all, it gets to be a fairly involved process. However, once I’ve got the clips I want in hand, the event itself is somewhat spontaneous: I’ve got my opening clip and ending clip lined-up, and beyond that it’s live VJing.

Yvonne:
What are some do’s and don’ts for Hell selections, nya?

Phil:
The first thing is to make sure that whatever gets shown hasn’t been completely overexposed. America’s new favorite pastime is watching wacky videos on YouTube, and I often have folks recommend footage that’s been seen by the free world, or I’ll stumble across something I think is brilliant only to discover that it’s old news to the rest of humanity. Fortunately, this isn’t always a hard and fast rule – after all, even stuff I think is played out is probably brand new to a lot of the audience – but it’s something that you have to watch out for.

However, the main thing is that the clips we show need to have a certain quality of, for lack of a better word, Hellishness. The ideal Hell footage is surprisingly weird and amusing in a way that the audience doesn’t expect. You can reliably count on surreal animation, black comedy, and dated pop culture artifacts to go over well, but there’s a lot out there that seems like it would work, but doesn’t. On the flip side, there’s just as much material that works perfectly in the context of Hell but wouldn’t fly on it’s own or without a bit of patter to help set it up. In short, it’s hard to describe, but I know Hell when I see it.

Yvonne:
What are some of your choicest Hell bits, nya?

Phil:
An early favorite was a clip from the worst educational cartoon I’ve ever seen, “Gogo’s Adventures in English”. It was aimed at Korean children whas helped explain the surreal dialogue but didn’t excuse the excruciatingly lame animation. It was about an alien critter who hangs out with a couple of dork kids, talking slowly in English for the benefit of the audience and having deeply unexciting adventures. Fortunately, their attempt to build a Rube Goldberg featured the characters repeatedly asking each other “Do you have any balls?”, thus transforming it from painful to hysterically painful, especially when everyone sings the balls line at the end of the episode. This is the clip that made me decide that I could do justice to a locally produced Hell when Dave Merrill couldn’t make it to Animazement.

Other recent favorites include mixed martial artist Bob Sapp’s rousing attempt at J-pop stardom, “Sapp Time” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceCRgf5tf0g; Kure Kure Takora http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91y0sh8Ay7g , a 60’s Japanese kids show about a selfish octopus and his Kroftesque friends, especially the episode where he establishes himself as dictator, ;
Ma Bell’s surreal attempts at educating 70’s youth about the wonders of the telephone, particularly the immortal song (which starts around 9:30 in) “Pick Up The Phone As Soon As It Rings” http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5844452338623457489; Don Hertzfeldt’s gleeful exercise in sadism towards children known as Billy’s Balloon
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fpc5vgi9zb; and last year’s big hit, Italo disco star Vivian Vee and her utterly ludicrous, wildly spastic back-up dancers performing the song “Higher”. It was the lynchpin of my “Europe must pay for it’s musical sins with fire” segment and inspired frantic, spontaneous dancing from the audience.

That said, the clip I’m most proud of was a ten minute montage we edited together from a North Korean children’s cartoon. I probably got put on a list of some sort when I ordered this from the Korean Friendship Association, but it was entirely worth it: three episodes of a furry version of G.I. Joe about North Korean secret agents infiltrating the degenerate West. All of the characters spy on each other and are in constant terror of being discovered; the atmosphere is impressively paranoid. The finale of each episode is the same: our hero is in a situation where he is going to die. He bravely struggles against his fate, pausing to have a soft focus montage of his animal friends back home in the Flower Kingdom, all wearing their military uniforms and admiring the beauty of nature, and then escapes miraculously just in time for the next episode. Watching these cartoons is an incredibly strange expereince in and of itself, but once we edited together the most unusual and violent segments and presented it with a bit of patter it became Grade A primo Hell fodder.

Yvonne:
For the past three years, you’ve written mewsical purrductions that were purrformed to an SRO crowd at Animazement, nya. What was the genesis of that, which lead to the first one, Evangelion: The Musical http://www.ibiblio.org/phil/fnordchan/eva-musical-04-11-05.txt in 2005, nya?

Phil:
Well, first off a bit of backstory. Back in 2000 I was seized with the idea that the members of the Carolina Otaku Uprising should put on a parody of the TV show Iron Chef at Animazement. We’d call it Dormatory Iron Chef, give the contestants your average student junk food to work with, and make it a gross out contest, with the judges offering up catty commentary. This was before Iron Chef had actually been shown in America, but a friend in San Francisco had taped several subtitled episodes for me and I was completely taken with the show and wanted to share it with the con; for some reason, Drom Iron Chef came to mind as the best way to do it. The audience that showed up had no idea what to expect, but it went over like gangbusters and we put it on for two more increasingly raucous years.

By that time, Iron Chef was popular in America, so we really started packing the house, but I also felt that the joke had been played out and it was time to try something else. In 2003 COUP attempted to put on a pardody game show which didn’t really work, so we decided to take a year off and mull things over. Shortly before the 2004 convention, I was walking to a meeting with some other COUP folks when inspiration struck and I found myself in the middle of the sidewalk yelling “That’s it! Evangelion: The Musical!”

Unfortuantely, this was only a few weeks before the convention and there were serious doubts that we could put on a production like that at all, let alone on short notice, so I jotted down a bunch of notes and put it on the back-burner. Early the next year I approached COUP stalwart Heather Walker and asked her if she’d be willing to direct Eva! if I were to write it, showed her the outline I had put together, and put out feelers to see if we could talk anyone else in the club into actually putting the damn thing on. Turns out our fellow club members are bored and gullible and thus we were off and running. Well, procrastinating, actually, but we agreed to perform the musical at Animazement 2005.

Yvonne:
Ballroom space at a con that size must be a purremium- how difficult was it for you to purrsuade the con chairman to greenlight the mewsical?

Phil:
Since we had experience putting on events at the convention with Dormatory Iron Chef, and since the pitch of Evangelion: The Musical practically sells itself, we were able to get the go ahead from Bex without any difficulty.

Yvonne:
Could you detail the writing purr-ocess of the mewsical? Who wrote the script and who wrote the mewsic?

Phil:
The scripts are all written by yours truly. Once I come up with an idea that lends itself to a suitable number of cheap gags I start taking notes and put everything on the back burner for a while (i.e. I procrastinate), writing notes for scenes and jokes as they come to me and meditating on suitable music to use. I’m not a musician in any way whatsoever, so I think of songs (usually Broadway numbers or well known popular tunes) and then write parody lyrics for them. This is a process that involves having copies of the original songs on a CD or iPod and my pacing a lot as I try to do my best Weird Al impersonation. Once I know which songs we’re going to be using, I let our music person, Chris Oates, know. He finds MIDIs to work with if possible (and curses my name and starts from scratch if not) and then creates an instrumental arrangement of the songs we’ll be performing.

Yvonne:
Who else acted and crewed that mewsical, nya? How long did y’all purrpare for it, nya?

Phil:
As mentioned, Heather Walker directed the first musical, and Chris Oates has provided music for all three. The rest of the roles were taken up by many particularly hardcore COUP members, including Aaron Randall and Seth Johnson, who would go on to direct the second musical, Cat Adamson, who directed the third and was terrific as Shinji, and, notably, former TAAS president and Animazement staffer Owen Evans as Rei Ayanami. Owen’s performance was memorable to say the least, from his decision to dye his beard blue to his ability to channel Ethel Merman. His interpretation of Rei shall live in our hearts forever.

Yvonne:
It was so well received that y’all struck back in 2006, with It Seemed Like a Good Idea at a Time: A Mewsical Comedy about Convention Running http://www.ibiblio.org/phil/fnordchan/musical/draft-04-19-06.txt, nya! Please tell us a bit about that, and how did it compare to the previous one?

Phil:
The Evangelion musical went over so well that we were determined to put on another production, this time directed by former Eva! actors Aaron Randoll and Seth Johnson. Anime conventions seemed like a natural subject for the next musical and years of con staffing helped provide the proper long-suffering attitude needed to write a bit of goofy comedy on the subject, about a bunch of incompetants who decide to throw a con thinking “How hard could it be?”, at which point, naturally, everything goes horribly wrong. One of the highlights of the production was our parody of the anime music video contest, where every video submitted was set to music by infamous German schlockmeister Heino, the finale of which caused near rioting among the crowd. (http://www.ibiblio.org/phil/fnordchan/musical/Good%20Idea%20Compiled.mov) Kudos to Animazement AMV coordinator William Bloodworth for doing a bang up job of the parodies.

Having put on a musical before really helped us have an idea of how much preparation is involved, what the limitations of the performance space were, and the desperate need to tweak the mics so that the audience could better hear us. The end result was that the sound, while not perfect, was improved, the audience was entertained, and the cast had a good time putting it on.

Yvonne:
You dared to do it again in 2007, with Jet! Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Kancho http://www.ibiblio.org/phil/fnordchan/musical3/draft-04-24-07.txt, nya…

Phil:
While the more masochistic members of COUP were fired up for another musical, the trick was finding the suitable subject matter. A Lost in Translation riff about a foreigner in Japan was suggested, which I liked but wasn’t sure it was quite enough to work with. Then I remembered anecdotes from friends of mine who taught English in Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching program, particularly tales of terror about the dreaded kancho, the practice of pranking your friends by sneaking up behind them and jamming your finger up their butt. Contrary to the title, the kancho bit was relegated to a newsreel style instructional film, “Kancho: Threat or Menace?” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_zmr8VoN5s), directed by myself and edited by the most excellent William Bloodworth. I’m told this video captures the kancho experience with frightening accuracy.

Kancho aside, the rest of the musical is about a cast of Japanophiles who go off to the promised land and find that it really, really wasn’t what they expected, with plenty of wacky hijinx involving gang members, maid cafes, and the occasional giant monster. We had a new AV team working the con this year and they did a great job in improving our traditional sound difficulties, especially considering that it was their first time trying to adapt musical theater to a venue almost wholely unsuited for it. Having starred in the previous two musicals, Catherine Adamson took over as director, while Chris Oates, who had previously provided all the music, finally had the time to perform on stage as well and proved to be an absolute ringer. We had the largest turnout yet for a musical, filling the main ballroom, and folks seemed really entertained.

Yvonne:
So what is the future of the mewsical at Animazement, nya?

(She starts to kitty paw at the yo-yo again, but regains composure. Nevertheless, Phil sets the yo-yo further aside, lest it be attacked.)

Yvonne:
Hee!

Phil:
We had originally planned on doing another musical at the 2008 convention, this time with original music by Chris Oates. The plan was that he would come up with the basic outline of the plot and all original music and lyrics, then I would flesh things out, write the script, throw in plenty of cheap jokes, and tweak the songs as needed. Unfortunately, grad school really kicked in for Chris and early in the year he had to beg off. While we’re disappointed not to be putting on another production this year, I totally understand the demands of grad school and, as it happens, Animazement’s schedule on Saturday was so full that squeezing us in would have been tricky. So, we’re all taking the year off and hope to be back in 2009. I can tell you that the songs Chris wrote before being swamped by school were pretty fantastic. Hopefully we’ll be performing them at Animazement next year.

Yvonne:
When you’re not involved with fandom, you are the Training Director at WXDU radio, nya. That is at Dook- did they know you were a UNC guy, nya?

Phil:
Oh, absolutely. Hell, the guy who trained me is a biochemistry professor at UNC! The thing about WXDU is that it’s a community radio station in addition to a student run station, and roughly half the DJs have no affiliation with Duke whatsoever. So, while our format is a lot like, say, WXYC in Chapel Hill (which is to say we have a college radio sound that ranges from a lot of indy rock to the obscure and inexplicable), our sound is different, in large part to local folks who bring their own expertise to the station.

Yvonne:
In addition to training the new DJs, I understand that you are on the air- and online- Mondays from 7 to 9 am, nya? What is your shift like and what do you play, nya?

Phil:
I’m a playlist DJ, which means that during my show I need to play six songs an hour from a selection of albums (generally around 150 at any given time) that cover a wide variety of music: rock, techno, hip hop, country, you name it. While there’s a bit of structure in place regarding what sort of playlist albums I should play, it’s extremely flexible and playlist DJs have a great deal of freedom in what they play. In my case, I’m generally interested in jazz and assorted varieites of world music (especially African and Latin), though I’ll play a little bit of everything and frequently bring in examples of my two great musical loves: novelty songs and disco.

Yvonne:
Is it all computerized, or can you still play tapes and spin vinyl LPs there, nya?

Phil:
While we have a computer that DJs can play music off of, it’s nothing like the sort of computerized system you’d hear at a mainstream station. There the music played is determined by a single music director and the DJs you hear on air have little to no control over what gets broadcast. In our case, it’s simply a reflection of the times – our hip-hop DJs now get virtually no physical promo albums and are instead sent MP3s by the labels, which they play via a computer running iTunes. However, most of our other genres of music are still well represented by CDs and the occasionally vinyl LP and most DJing happens using CD players and turntables.

Yvonne:
Do you take requests, nya?

Phil:
Sure thing. 919-684-8870 or 919-84-8871 by phone, request@wxdu.org by email. Station DJs aren’t required to take requests, but we’re certainly encouraged to, especially when you get ‘em from the Butner Minimum Security Correctional Facility. Sometimes you’ll answer the phone and get a computerized voice explaining that you’re receiving a call from a federal penitentiary, please press four to accept. I go out of my way to fullfill these and there’s a small but loyal listenership in the prison. Our Latin DJ gets Christmas cards from ‘em.

Yvonne:
There must be a lot of FCC regulations purrtaining to what you cannot broadcast… could you enlighten us about that?

Phil:
George Carlin’s seven dirty words give you an idea of the regulations, but aren’t exactly what’s being enforced. The very short version is that there are regulations regarding indecent and obscene material. Indecent material is described as the abstract use of naughty language (yelling something as an exclamation, say), while if you’re really getting into detail about a sexual or excratory activity, whether you’re using naughty language or not, that’s obscene. Indecent material can be played during the Safe Harbor (10pm to 6am) with a warning, obscene material may never be broadcast. There’s a lot of detail that goes along with these rules, but that’s the basic rule of thumb. Also, it’s illegal to start a riot over the radio. Don’t do it.

Yvonne:
Do you podcast, nya?

Phil:
Nope. I like podcasts and I’m sure it would be interesting to do one, but for the time being I’m perfectly content to spend a couple hours a week broadcasting from WXDU.


Yvonne:
What do you purrdict for the future of radio, the record industry, and online mewsic, nya?

Phil:
The future of broadcast radio has been grim ever since deregulation happened a decade ago, which has allowed companies like Clear Channel and Viacom to own a vast percentage of all radio broadcasting in the US. Thus you get very little local programming, homogonized playlists, and, frankly, boring radio. Satellite radio is an interesting alternative, but perhaps isn’t quite there yet, not likely to get there anytime soon, and doesn’t help with the local issue. I think what you’re going to get a lot more of is people broadcasting (via podcast or streaming radio) online, in a legal manner or otherwise. It’s certainly how the computer savvy listen to music today, despite attempts to cripple or destroy internet radio from the industry. Obviously, this is to say nothing of music piracy in general, which is vast, endemic, and not going anywhere, no matter how much legal action is taken. I figure at some point the music industry will figure out how to make money online and everything will balance out, but until then the transition is going to be a bit rocky.

Yvonne:
What advice do you have for someone wishing for a career in radio, nya?

Phil:
The problem with radio deregulation, as mentioned, is that you have a couple of companies who run everything. These companies want to be efficient, and thus you increasingly have fewer and fewer people (DJs or otherwise) running stations that broadcast to a very wide region, with local IDs inserted via software. So, the classic rock radio station you’re listening to may well, if owned by, say, Clear Channel, be the exact same radio that someone is listening to several states away. Which is to say that if there weren’t many jobs in radio in the first place, there certainly aren’t very many now, and it’s my understanding that what jobs there are pay very little. I suppose I’d wish someone good luck, but I wouldn’t get too optamistic about it. Note that I enjoy radio as a volunteer hobby, not a career. Of course, all that applies to the standard broadcast model. There could be all manner of opportunities online, but that I can’t really comment on.

Yvonne:
You have a very diverse and worldly collection of mewsic, nya. What are your favorite cat-egories of mewsic, and who are your favorite recording artists, nya?

Phil:
I listen to a rather wide variety of music, but perhaps not in depth in any particular category. That said, in general I’ve been having difficulty listening to music that isn’t at least twenty years old and am consistnetly discovering classic world music (particularly salsa, afrobeat, and even a bit of calypso recently), disco (and all manner of R&B, dance music, and hip-hop from around the early 70s to early 80s), plus a smattering of quirky pop music new and old. Also I will forever hold the musical genius of “Weird Al” Yankovic close to my heart.

Yvonne:
Have you any purrticularly favorite songs or albums, nya?

Phil:
Oh, sure. A short list of some favorites include Laurie Anderson’s “Big Science”, Orchestra Baobab’s “Pirate’s Choice”, Philip Glass’s “Koyaanisqatsi”, Sylvester’s “Living Proof”, DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing”, “Songs and More Songs” by Tom Lehrer, and the Brave Combo’s “Polka Party”. I’m serious about that last one, by the way. Lately, songs that I’ve been listening to a lot include “Go Go Yellow Screen” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC6tKtOnkMU by early 80’s Belgian disco group Digital Emotion, anime theme song “Minna no Peace” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFO3reqgGJQ by goofy Japanese pop group Afromania, the main title theme to the Dario Argento horror flick Tenebrae http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPJY_F4xC0M by members of the Italian group Goblin, “Que Viva la Musica” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2kLWX-sm7U by salsa legend Ray Barretto, and “Star Walk” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zge0zVHgMvc , a late 70’s number by funk legend Larry Graham during a brief disco phase.

Yvonne:
Do you go to many clubs, concerts, or stage purrductions, nya?

Phil:
Not as many as I probably should, considering how active the music scene is around here, but I get out to, say, The Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro a few times a year to see bands I particularly like. It’s been a few months since I’ve actually made it out to see a show, but I did see They Might Be Giants at the Carolina Theater put on a fun performance and a raucous show at UNC by funk jam group Robert Randolph and the Family Band.


Yvonne:
What are some of the most impressive purrformances you’ve seen?

Phil:
Oh, there are several that come to mind. The Magnetic Fields performing the entirety of their literal album “69 Love Songs” over two nights at the Artcenter in Carrboro, a riotous show by gypsy punk cabaret (their description) group Gogol Bordello at the Cat’s Cradle that packed the house and inspired mass dancing and kicklines, both times I managed to see the Ramones live (a revelation each time), and especially a small but enthusiastic performance by polka masters The Brave Combo at the Cradle. Partway through that show some fans loudly demanded they play their rendition of “Must Be Santa”, which confused the band as it was the middle of July. However, the fans insisted and the crowd, when polled, was perfectly fine with it, at which point is was announced that to play “Must Be Santa” properly they had to have the tuba, and if they were going to play the tuba they were going to do it outside.

Cue the band grabbing their instruments, heading out into the parking lot with the audience trailing behind, and then tearing into a frentic, holiday polka. The cops were on the scene in moments, as they had a substation around the corner, but had no idea what to do once they’d arrived. This was immediately followed by the fastest version of the Chicken Dance that I’ve ever heard, after which we tromped back inside for the rest of the show. After the concert I immediately went out to the car and tore off the Nine Inch Nails bumper sticker that I had on it. It was truly a defining moment in my life.

I did have the good fortune to catch a rather good six band show at a large club in Tokyo last year (with The Pillows and a hot new group called Doping Panda headlining) at one of the best club venues I’ve ever seen. See, in Japan everyone arrives by train and the trains stop running at midnight, so unlike US shows where everyone can just drive home whenever, the shows have to start and stop on time. So, the show started exactly on time, which seemed miraculous to me, and six bands got to perform full sets in just three hours. When one band woudl stop playing, grips would swarm the stage, unplug everything, and roll the entire stage off to one side of the building, while a freshly prepped stage was rolled in from the other side. Moments later, the next band would be on. I was completely blown away, especially after years of attending shows at small US clubs that could easily wrap up at 2am or later, depending on when the main act felt like going on stage. It didn’t hurt that the place was literally wall to wall cute Japanese punk girls and if you got anywhere near the stage you were crammed in to the point of intimacy.

Yvonne:
Nnn…nnnn…yaa!

(Unable to resist any longer, pounces on the yo-yo with a big open mouthed grin)

Phil:
Gah!

Mike:
(to the rescue) Ah, sorry abput that Phil! Er. I guess we’re done with the interview…

Phil:
Oh, it’s no problem at all. I can’t argue too strenuously with having a catgirl sprawled over me in pursuit of yo-yo goodness.

Yvonne:
Hee!

Phil:
Besides, I’ve lived with cats before and understand the utter fascination a yo-yo string can inspire.

Mike:
Um, here let me give you some money for that yo-yo… (reaches for wallet)

Phil:
Oh, no, I couldn’t and, really, it’s no problem. I’ve got lots more yo-yos where that one came from. Yvonne, enjoy the yo-yo! Consider it a gift for the interviewer.

Mike:
Well, uh, I’d like to thank our friend Phil for dropping by Catgirl Island to grant this interview! Thanks Phil!

Phil:
Thanks very much for having me and letting me ramble on!

Yvonne:
MM num num num nya…

Mike:
Phil, I’ll see you later tonight at the luau. Well kids, we’ll be right back after this break!

(After Mike has confiscated the tempting toy, Vonny has regained her composure as her cell phone vibrates)

Yvonne:
Moshi mosh? Meet you in the Orchid Oratory? OK I’m on my way, nya!

(3 minutes later)

Yvonne:
(on her cell phone) I’m lost in this big place, nya! Ok turn right then take the escalator… OK I’m on my way, nya!

(3 minutes later)

Yvonne:
(on her cell phone) UM, was that a left or a right after the escalator, nya? OK I’ll just stay right here then, nya!

(Elizabeth pounces from behind an arch to glomp Yvonne)

Elizabeth:
BANZAI!

Yvonne:
NYAAA!!! (tail sticks out all rigid)

Jeannie:
This is another ambush lightning round.

Mary Nyan:
By the way that was a very good interview you conducted, Vonny!

Yvonne:
Arigatoo gozaimasu, nya! Ok what is the Lightning Round Topic, nya?

Elizabeth:
Wait a tick- here comes Mike— get him!

(All four catgirls glomp their purrducer)
BANZAI!

Mike:
What the–? Sigh… OK, what is the lightning round topic? But let’s make it a quickie as we have a show to resume after the break!

Elizabeth:
Lightning Round #2: Favorite Joss Whedon Moments of the Month!
But be warned- there be plot spoilage ahead! Lightning Round— Go!

(Tags Mike)

Mike:
Astonishing X-Men continues to be not only my favorite Marvel title, but in my opinion the best X-Men stories in 25 years. While I am not anxious to see the wonderful Whedon / Cassaday team leave the book, I am eagerly anticipating their final issue with Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1, which i hope will be published soon! Cassady’s cover illustration of issue #24 with kitty & Lockheed was very cute!
(re- tags Elizabeth) Back atcha, Lizzy!

Elizabeth:
I would like to commend the creative team of Runaways for “Dead End Kids Part 5″ in issue #24. Lillie ‘n Vic- wohhoo! Mollie’s cute hat! The two-page fight scene spread! But… poor Megan & Creeper… that was a shock. This has felt sort of like ‘The New Mutants meet Doctor Who’. The plot, dialog, pencils, inks, colors, lettering are all superb, and the editor should also be thanked for shepherding it all!
(tags Yvonne) Vonny’sturn!

Yvonne:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight is my favorite comic book these days, nya! It has been so much fun and feels just like the TV show, nya. In issue #13’s “Wolves at the Gate Part 2″ the tea time conversation was a riot, nya! And the scene with Aiko ‘n Buffy about the kabuki demons was cute, nya. I would like some purrple glasses lik hers, nya, but it was sad what happened to her, nya. Andrew scores more geek pointage for his ebay purrize, nya! Willow in a plane full of Slayers wanting Satsu to spill it on her recent ‘HGOGA’ with Buffy was fun (tags Mary Nyan) MYAYR’S TURN, NYA!

Jeannie:
Buffy’s plane looked like a C-17 Globemaster III, although from that distance it could have been a C-5 Galaxy.

(Mike looks at his watch and gives the twirling index finger sign to speed it up…)

Mary Nyan:
I agree that the Buffy Season 8 has been terrific, but I have been elated with Angel: After the Fall, since the TV show got cut short. Issue #6 of this ‘sixth season’ was purr-ticularly interesting as it flashed back to the night of that final episode when all hell broke loose, as seen by Spike, Connor and Lorne. Of the four different covers two being rare variants, I got the ‘A’ version by Wrigley, but the center spread was the B version art by Art & the Sharp Brothers which was nice to get both of the standard cover pics. Well, Jeannyjen, you’re up!

Jeannie:
My favorite thing about the Serenity Better Days mini-series #2 of 3 were the lovely fashion designs and the lavish scenic art. And the sexual comedy. Done now!

Yvonne:
Whedonesque http://whedonesque.com/ is a good weblog site for discussions and mews purrtaining to Joss Whedon’s work, nya!

Mike:
All righty! Everybody get back to work! Myayr, I believe your segment is coming up next, so you should head on to the Hibiscus Room!

(All four catgirls cutely in unison)
Hai!

Elizabeth:
Vonny do you know where you are going?

Yvonne:
(looks around) uh… (a sweat drop appears on her forehead)

Elizabeth:
Mike, better get her a map of the place!

(Not much later it is time for the next segment-)


photo by Lt. Cmdr. Katkith vestai

Catgirl Questions Concerning Klingon Karaoke:
Mary Nyan’s Interview with Captain Keela Sutai-Septaric

Mary Nyan:
We’re here in the Hibiscus Hall of the Catgirl Island Center for Purrforming Arts with our special guest Leila McMichael, aka Captain Keela sutai-Septaric of the Klingon Assault Group! Aloha, Keela!

Capt. Keela:
Nuq Neh!

Mary Nyan:
Care for some prune juice?

Capt. Keela:
Of course! Warrior’s drink popularized throughout the Empire by the son of Mogh.

Mary Nyan:
First a bit of background. how and when did you become a fan of Star Trek, and the Klingons?

Capt. Keela:
Leila McMichael became a fan when the series was nearing its end or had just become serialized in approximately 1969. In that guise, I loved the show being an avid reader of science fiction and fan of anything remotely science fiction on television, like Lost in Space. My favorite character in the original series (TOS) or Classic Trek was Mr. Spock. I did not become a fan of the Klingons until 1992 approximately when I saw dressed up Klingon fans at a convention in Winston-Salem (or Greensboro). I fell in love with them and had my picture taken with the biggest and most handsome one of the bunch. He was Admiral Kroesh epetai-Septaric and he later accepted me into his household after I joined KAG in approximately 1994.

Mary Nyan:
Who are your favorite Klingons from the movies and TV series?

Capt. Keela:
I have to say Kang, Kor, Worf, Gowron, MartoK, and Belanna.

Mary Nyan:
Are you also a member of Starfleet and other groups, or just the Klingon Assault Group, http://www.kag.org/?

Capt. Keela:
I am not a member of Starfleet International http://www.sfi.org/, but I am a member of the Star Trek Independent Fleet (STIF) http://thestif.0catch.com/ . I am also a member of the 501st http://www.501st.com/, the Charlotte Fan Force www.charlottefanforce.com/ , the Charlotte Browncoats (fans of Firefly and Serenity) http://www.charlottebrowncoats.org/ and a crewman on the Distant Thunder (BOTAC) http://atlanticbuccaneers.com/ . I am currently securing final paperwork to join the DAR http://www.dar.org/.

Mary Nyan:
Could you give us a bit of history on how the KAG was formed, and how big an organization it is?

Capt. Keela:
KAG was formed at Indy Con in 1989 by a stalwart group of invaders who took the stage at the costume contest as the Klingon Assault Group. We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary at Marcon in 2009. For general information, please refer the Marcon website and for information on KAG activities, email me at keela001@gmail.com

Mary Nyan:
Now if I have this right, you’re a Captain, commanding the entire Dark Star Quadrant http://www.geocities.com/darkstarquadrant/ aboard the IKV flagship Executioner http://www.darkmoonfleet.org/DSQ/ships/executioner.htm which is in the Death Touch Squadron of the Imperial Klingon Navy http://www.kag.org/navy/ Gastonia NC-based Dark Moon Fleet http://www.darkmoonfleet.org/?

Capt. Keela:
A lot has changed since your operatives have secured this information. Since it is now mostly declassifed, I am at liberty to share with you these changes. I no longer command the Dark Star Quadrant (NC, SC, VA and MD) because I have had to step down due to getting ready to attend school in the Fall of 2008. Our current CO is Lt. Cmdr. GortoK vestai-QIhqem. He can be contacted at gortok_@hotmail.com

The Executioner (Hickory, NC) has not been the flagship for a while, but she is a noble ship and I currently serve as a crewman aboard her. I feel sure that the IKV Shadowrider (Spartanburg, SC), GortoK’s ship, will be considered the flagship. The Death Touch Squadron had to be disbanded because one of our Bird’s of Prey, the IKV Blood Moon (formerly of Gastonia, NC) flew to Nebraska, and due to crew attrition and my commitments to school, the IKV Raging Wolf (Lenoir, NC) had to be drydocked.

It IS true that most of Dark Star Quadrant is Naval, but we do have one Marine ship, the IKAV Sword of Kahless (Columbia, SC); one Demonfleet ship, the KPV Krimson Fury (Pineville, NC); and one Xeno Legion ship of Romulan extraction, the XLV Hnoiyika (Gastonia, NC). We in Dark Star Quadrant are part of Dark Moon Fleet which encompasses the entire East Coast of the United States.

Mary Nyan:
Although Klingons were already popular villains, Klingon culture seemed to take off dramatically in the 80’s, after their new look and language were unveiled in 1979’s Star Trek the Motion Picture and subsequent publication of the Klingon Dictionary, but it was not really until perhaps mid way into the era of The Next Generation in the early 90’s when we began to see more facets of Klingon Society- their arts, politics, spirituality, history, cuisine and mewsic, right?

Capt. Keela:
That is correct. A day without secrets is like a night without stars. We Klingons don’t parade our culture about the galaxy and perhaps that is why it is difficult to understand our concepts of honor and duty. With the Next Generation documentaries, understanding our Warrior race was greatly facilitated.

Mary Nyan:
Then got to hear Admiral Chang quoting Shakespeare, Worf singing Klingon opera, and Dax in a duet with an accordion playing Klngon restauranteur aboard Deep Space Nine!

Capt. Keela:
Absolutely. Klingons are all about the arts . . . war is an art.

Mary Nyan:
What can you tell us about the Klingon Language Institue http://www.kli.org/ ? Do you know if they have studies in Klingon mewsic?

Capt. Keela:
I know that my prior experience with the KLI has been positive. I do not know what offerings they have at the time, but anyone who is interested can check out their resources.

Mary Nyan:
Which brings us to the Miss Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant, part of Trek programming at Dragon Con which you’ve competed in? How’d you do?

Capt. Keela:
Well . . . it is winner take all, but under the table I have been informed that a couple times I came in second in scoring. As the earther’s say: “Always a bridesmade and never a bride.” I have retired from that competition. My battles lie elsewhere.

Mary Nyan:
In Star Trek Generations, The Duras Sisters Lursa and B’etor made it clear how unattractive they found human women. That would lead me to think that you would not tend to see many Original Series
Klingon ladies as finalists in the pageant?

Capt. Keela:
Klingons from any time period may enter as long as they use a licensed time traveling device. As for the Levosian flu affecting our Warrior race and causing appearance problems, we don’t like to talk about it. It was a burden for those afflicted and we don’t like to relive their pain.

Mary Nyan:
Was there a talent portion of the pageant?

Capt. Keela:
Of course! Klingons are some of the most talented beings in the galaxy!

Mary Nyan:
So, could you please enlighten us about Klingon mewsic?

Capt. Keela:
Well, we are particularly fond of drinking songs. We are also fond of stirring battle songs like the Klingon Anthem. Last, but not least, we are very fond of opera.

Mary Nyan:
I imagine that in a big empire of many planets, there would be a great diversity of Klingon mewsical stylings.

Capt. Keela:
Yes, the three categories I named above are but a few of the rich musical Klingon heritage.

Mary Nyan:
How about Klingon Filk?

Capt. Keela:
We have several Klingons who use the filk method to express their musical creativity. I am aware of some of it, but rarely sing it.

Mary Nyan:
Another event is Keela & Katkith’s Klingon Karaoke. Please tell us all about that!

Capt. Keela:
Ah! This is a diplomatic effort on my mate’s and myself’s part to enrich the huMan’s cultural experience at intergalactic and interdimensional gatherings called conventions. They occur regularly in the space/time continuum. We present Karaoke as found on earth, but with Klingon hosts and hostess. It is always a good day to sing with Keela and Katkith! We have recently enlisted a talented Klingon to assist since with the impending schooling, I may not be able to participate as much as I would like. His name is K’Blamm and he is a Klingon jester. He was VERY well received at the recent StellarCon; in fact one female (married; sorry, K’Blamm) raved about him. It is not necessary to sing in Klingon, but if you do, you will get a hug from me . . . or K’Blamm.

Mary Nyan:
What are some of your own favorite songs?

Capt. Keela:
Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Time Warp,” the Village People’s “YMCA,” and Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” These are songs that seem to elicite the best response from singers and audience. It’s glorious!!!!

Mary Nyan:
Could you now… pick a verse from a favorite song, and sing it in Klingon for us?

Capt. Keela:
No, none of my favorite human songs translate well to Klingon. I like “Over The Rainbow” but “Over the Waterphotons” is meaningless to most.

Mary Nyan:
How many conventions or gatherings have y’all purrformed the karaoke?

Capt. Keela:
We debuted Klingon Karaoke at Spartacon in Spartanburg, SC in November 2002. Next was ConCarolinas http://www.concarolinas.org/ in Charlotte, NC in 2003 where we have been featured ever since. Next was StellarCon http://www.stellarcon.org/ in the Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point area in 2005 and ever since. We debuted Keela and Katkith’s Klingon Karaoke at the Trek Track http://www.trektrak.com/ at Dragon*Con http://www.dragoncon.org/ in 2005 and have been back every year since then, thanks to the support of Trek Trak director, Eric Watts. And as I mentioned earlier K’Blamm has been greatly assisting us in performing this service for a couple of these conventions.

Mary Nyan:
At Wikipedia I read of Star Trek themed bands such as Stovokor and Kosmic Horror that sing in Klingon -have you heard them?

Capt. Keela:
Yes I have heard Stovokor.

Mary Nyan:
What advice do you have for anyone attempting karaoke?

Capt. Keela:
In Klingon Karaoke you have two choices. You either kill or you die. Make a joyful noise no matter what you do!

Mary Nyan:
Besides that singing, do you have other mewsical talents?

Capt. Keela:
In another lifetime as a time-traveler, I played the recorder and sang medieval and renaissance songs. I played the piano for church many years ago.

Mary Nyan:
What is your event schedule for this year?

Capt. Keela:
Klingon Karaoke will be at ConCarolinas in 2008 and at Trek Trak at Dragon*Con 2008. Beyond that I do not know. My personal plans coincide with this for the most part, although there are some smaller local conventions I may be able to attend.

Mary Nyan:
At conventions, you often repurrsent the KAG at a table, to purrmote the organization and to raise donations for Hospice- could you please tell us more about those efforts?

Capt. Keela:
We usually always have a table at conventions to raise awareness of the Klingon Assault Group and to recruit new Warriors. Sometimes we have a charitable activity going on as well. In Dark Star Quadrant when I was CO, we usually went to Heroes Con www.heroesonline.com in Charlotte, NC and raised money from Friday-Sunday for Palliative Care Center and Hospice of Catawba Valley of Newton, NC. We have been doing raising funds for Hospice since 2000. All I can say is that if you have the opportunity to give to Hospice or Make A Wish or any other charitable cause, do so. People need support in these times of economic duress.

Mary Nyan:
How can someone find out more about Hospice, and Hospice activities in their local area?

Capt. Keela:
Yes! Just look in the phone book and check the newspapers. Local science fiction clubs often support these worthy causes as well. Look for the chance to donate at your local convention.

Mary Nyan:
One final question, so do they still sings songs of the great Tribble hunt?

Capt. Keela:
Did Odo put you up to this?

Mary Nyan:
Heh… not as far as I know- but those changelings are pretty crafty I hear. Thank you for your efforts for such a worthy cause as Hospice! And thank you for coming here to Catgirl Island - we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your visit to our cordial coastal Carolina community! Qapla’!

Capt. Keela:
You honor me with your words. Thank you for having me and for sharing this information with your audience. Qapla’!

Mary Nyan:
Isn’t she such a nice and powerful lady? We’ll be right back after this short break!

(Mike enters the room to thank Keela & confer with Mary Nyan)

Mike:
Keela, thank you so much for being part of the show! Oh Myayr, Jenjen wants us all to convene in the Magnolia Mezzanine during the break!

Mary Nyan:
Oh I bet it’s for a surprise Lightning Round!

Mike:
Yeah that’s what I figure. Keela, I’ll show you back to The Rose, then y’all can take the island tour before tonight’s luau!

Later, perched in the Magnolia Mezzanine-


Yvonne:
Wow I’ve never been up in this part of the building before, nya!

Mike:
(last to arrive) And this isn’t even the highest balcony!

Mary Nyan:
The balustrade is quite ornate!

Jeannie:
Purr-haps you are wondering why I have summoned you.

Mary Nyan:
It’s another surprise Lightning Round, isn’t it?

Jeannie:
Hai!

(all four catgirls cheer)
Lightning Round! Lightning Round! Nya nya nya!

Elizabeth:
Well let’s keep it quick- I have an interview to do in a few minutes!

Mike:
And I need to get back to check on the guests- what is the topic?

Jeannie:
Lightning Round #3: Favorite Radio Shows!
(tags Mary Nyan)

Mary Nyan:
Purrobably the King Biscuit Flour Hour http://www.kingbiscuit.com/ , House of Blues Radio Hour http://www.thebluesmobile.com/ and the Allan Handleman Show http://www.ifitrocks.com/ - he has lots of fascinating guests on his show, from rock stars to UFO experts, record collectors and doctors! (tags Yvonne)

Yvonne:
The Thistle & Shamrock http://thistleradio.com with Fiona Ritchie, and Back Porch Mewsic http://www.wunc.org/ nya! (tags Elizabeth) Lizzy’s turn, nya!

Elizabeth:
Mine are either This American Life http://www.thislife.org/ – especially with Sarah Vowell- or A Prairie Home Companion http://www.prairiehome.org/ (tags Jeannie) back to you, Jenjen!

Jeannie:
Car Talk http://www.cartalk.com/ and Science Friday http://www.sciencefriday.com/ (glances at Mike to finish the round)

Mike:
Me? This is dating me, but my favoritest thing to listen to on the radio… were the good old days of the late 70’s- early 80’s, when WQDR FM http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WQDR#History was an Album Oriented Rock station. I could ramble on, but now’s the time the time is now to get back to the guests!

(all four catgirls in unison)
Hai!

(Elizabeth and Jeannie exit left, descending the grand spiral stairs, then head toward the Azalea Ampitheater and Sakura Stage respectively; Mary Nyan, Yvonne and Mike exit right, destined for the Plumeria Pavillion, Bougainvillea Ballroom, and Rose Room, continuing to discuss–)

Favorite On Air Purr-sonalities, and the Purr-loined Yo-yo

Mary Nyan:
Do you remember WKNC’s Chainsaw Rock metal show?

Mike:
How could i forget? Let’s see… I think we turn here-

Yvonne:
So who is your all time favorite on-air talent, Mike, nya?

Mike:
Yep it’s this way- Oh gosh… I was a big fan of Tom Gongaware when he was at WQDR when they were AOR, but for sports announcing I like Woody Durham the most. What about your favorites?

Yvonne:
Fiona Ritchie… oh and l like Doctor Demento too, nya!

Mary Nyan:
Allan Handleman has great topics & interviews, Casey Kasem has the legendary musicology & voice acting, but my all time favorite voice of radio would have to be Wolfman Jack!

(Mary Nyan and Mike clap for the Wolfman)

Mary Nyan:
(to the audience) Thassa reference to a song!

Yvonne:
Mi-ike…?

Mike:
Hmm?

Yvonne:
Give me the yo-yo, nya!

Mike:
Nope! Later, perhaps.

Mary Nyan:
What are y’all talking about?

Mike:
Vonny was naughty- she glomped this yo-yo from a guest and I had to confiscate it from her.

Yvonne:
I cannot help my nature, nya!

Mike:
But you didn’t hafta nibble it! Ah, well look we can discuss that later, but you should prepare for your next interview!

Yvonne:
‘kay, nya! (scampers off as Mary Nyan and Mike continue on)

Mary Nyan:
She can be a bit impulsi–

(Myayr’s eyes widened, enticed by sight of the dangling yo-yo that Mike is looping)

Mike:
Yeah I guess… (sigh) Well I’ve just about got this thing untangled! (unwinds and loops the yo-yo)

Mary Nyan
(dives for it) NYAAA!

(Elsewhere in the building. Lizzy ‘n Jenjen discuss)

The Catgirls’ Least Favorite Mewsical Purr-ogramming

Jeannie:
Na ni? I thought I just heard Mike scream…

Elizabeth:
Oh he’s purr-obably just trying to sing on one of the stages. Oh we should have gotten there by now- admit it we’re lost!

Jeannie:
Yes, but we are making good time.

Elizabeth:
I knew we should have made that left turn at the restrooms. I guess Vonny isn’t the only one who needs a map!

Jeannie:
It would be fun to explore but we should go back.

Elizabeth:
Now where were we-

Jeannie:
We were in the Mezz-

Elizabeth:
No I mean in the discussion, before we got lost! This building sure is big…!

Jeannie:
Our least favorite things about mewsic radio and TV.

Elizabeth:
Right.

Jeannie:
No I think we keep going straight-

Elizabeth:
No I meant you were right.

Jeannie:
So what is your least favorite things about mewsic on radio and TV?

Elizabeth:
It would be how some radio stations seem to play the same few songs over an over again.

Jeannie:
Oh I agree. I like Led Zeppelin, but “Stairway to Heaven” is a bit over played- yet when’s the last time you heard “Achilles Last Stand” on the radio?

Elizabeth:
Purr-cisely! Ok, there’s stairwell again. So what do you dislike?

Jeannie:
Two things, mostly. I wish MTV would have stuck with mewsic instead of purr-ograms such as The Real World, or other ‘reality’ or contest chows.

Elizabeth:
What is the second thing?

Jeannie:
I think the Oscars ceremony wastes time by playing the songs that are nominated. They should treat it like any other category, quickly listing the nominees, accompanied by a few seconds of a clip.

Elizabeth:
That would shave off 15 minutes. By the way, how much time do we have?

Jeannie:
Hmm… not much. We should purr-obably purr-oceed to the next segment, which features our dear friend Jamie!

illustration Jamie Robertson
Beatles & Witches & Cats, Oh My: Elizabeth’s Interview with Jamie Robertson

Elizabeth:
I’m here in the Azalea Amphitheater to welcome our next guest, Jamie Robertson! He’s the creator of Clan of the Cats http://clanofthecats.com, Sebo’s Kitty Club http://clanofthecats.com/sebo/index.html, and other web comics. He’s also a web master, has been director of comics programming for Trinoc*coN http://www.trinoc-con.org for a few years, and is a member of the Order of the Knights of Jubal http://ivbalis.com/, Carolina Comic Book Club http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Carolina-Comic-Book-Club/ and North Carolina Web Comics Coffee Clatch http://ncwccc.com, which just recently published it’s first anthology book http://ncwccc.com/swag.html. But today we’re here to focus mainly on another big interest of his, mewsic, from how that inspires his own artistry and storytelling and the relationship of favorite songs to his own characters, to his fondness of a little English quartet called The Beatles http://www.beatles.com/. Hi jamie!

Elizabeth:
Hi Hi!

Jamie:
Hi!

Elizabeth:
So what is your purrfured mewsic to draw cats -and the girls that turn into them- by?

Jamie:
Anything that I don’t consider annoying. As much as I like the Beatles there is no one band or type of music that I listen to while drawing. One day it may be the Beatles, the next it could be Amy Winehouse and the next day could be a podcast on political matters in the US.

Elizabeth:
So what in general is in your juke box?

Jamie:
Lots of Beatles, but lots of other stuff too. I have everything from Abba to Zappa in my iTunes collection. I also listen to a lot of podcasts like This American Life, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, and a few others.

Elizabeth:
You are purrticularly fond of The Beatles. How did that come about?

Jamie:
I had known about them when I was a very little kid, but I really wasn’t into music that much as far as knowing who was who. I just knew what songs I liked. Then one weekend in 1978 my parent, aunt and uncle and I went to the beach. That weekend a radio station played every #1 song from 1964 to the present. The first three were Beatle songs, songs I had heard and knew I liked. Anyway, most of the songs played that weekend that I really got into were Beatle songs. The following week I went out and bought my first Beatle album.

Elizabeth:
Is there are purrticular period of the Beatles you purrfur?

Jamie:
I have favorite songs from different periods, but if I had to pick a fav era it would be the Sbt Pepper era, although that’s not my favorite album. The White Album is my favorite.

Elizabeth:
What are your favorite Beatles albums and songs?

Jamie:
The White Album is my favorite, after that would be Revolver and Sgt. Pepper. Currently my favorite song is Strawberry Fields Forever. I used to say that A Hard Day’s Night was my favorite and it is a top five, but only because it’s the song that really got me into the Beatles.

Elizabeth:
What do you think of the fab four’s films?

Jamie:
A Hard Day’s Night is a classic. HELP! is a fun movie, but it doesn’t have the same “magic” as AHDN. Magical Mystery Tour is horrible and I’ve never seen Let it Be.

Elizabeth:
They are among the most collectible icons. What are some of your most purrized Beatles items?

Jamie:
I have quite a few Beatle albums (vinyl LPs) from around the world. I have a 45 rpm DJ edition of Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane w/ the rare version of Penny Lane. The first LP I ever bought was called Beatles’ Greatest and was pressed in gold vinyl record. That’s probably my most prized Beatle possession, that and the Yellow Submarine for Peace button.

Elizabeth:
Are there any purrticular Beatles items you hope to own?

Jamie:
The Beatles are too expensive to collect these days, so I really haven’t thought about it.

Elizabeth:
There can be some polarization amongst Beatles fans… those who purrfur early Beatles to later Beatles

Jamie:
Yes, there can be.

Elizabeth:
There are those who have a favorite Beatle- some like John most; others are bigger fans of Paul. Ringo, George… care to dissect Beatles fandom even further?

Jamie:
I don’t know enough about the fandom as a whole to give concise examples, but a friend of mine in college was a huge fan of Paul McCartney and actually disliked the other three Beatles in the solo careers. He hated Yoko and was one of the blind masses who blamed her for the break up.

Elizabeth:
Do you have a favorite Beatle?

Jamie:
I used to say John and I guess he still is my favorite, but I like them all for different reasons. It’s still John mainly because I just like his particular songs a little better than the rest.

Elizabeth:
What do you think of his solo work compared to his Beatles work?

Jamie:
Lennon’s first solo album, Plastic Ono Band, is a masterpiece of angst. By that I mean the album is classic, but it’s all about Lennon venting all his shit he had been repressing. Lennon’s next, Imagine, toned down the angst a bit and tightened up the production. By contrast, George Harrison’s first solo venture, All Things Must Pass, also a classic, was about George finally getting his due. It was an explosion of musical suppression as he rarely got more than one or two songs on an LP during the Beatles.

Elizabeth:
And there are big fans of Beatle wives such as Yoko Ono, Linda McCartney and Barbara Bach too, right?.

Jamie:
Currently Yoko is actually coming into fashion w/ some of the alternative bands like the Flaming Lips. She recently did a tour with such bands. The B-52s credit her as an inspiration. Linda had a modest amount of fame as a photographer before she met Paul, and as the fans are concerned, she is the favorite of the two. Olivia Harrison played a big part in the Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE, based on the Beatles’ music. She sort of took the reins after George’s death. Ringo’s wife, Bond girl, Barbara Back, retired soon after the couple got of rehab.

Elizabeth:
Haven’t Beatle wives and children have even been the subject of legendary songs, such as Layla and Hey Jude.

Jamie:
Yeah, but an artist writes what he or she knows. Hey Jude was written because Paul felt sorry for John’s song Julian, because his parents were getting a divorce. Layla was inspired by Eric Clapton’s crush on George Harrison’s wife. George said, “take her” as the two were having marital problems. Including songs such as Lovely Linda, most of Paul’s love songs post Beatles was about his wife. Julia, from the album titled The Beatles (aka The White Album), was about Lennon’s mother, but it wove strands of lyrics throughout the song that were dedicated to Yoko.

Elizabeth:
A sad question often asked of other Beatles fans is… where were you when John Lennon died? And George?

Jamie:
I was getting ready for school when my Dad told me about John. I heard about George on the TV.

Elizabeth:
What is your opinion of the stage purrduction Beatlemania, the many tribute bands, and Cirque du Soleil’s “Love”?

Jamie:
I haven’t seen LOVE, but I have the disc and the sound is great. I’ll be glad when they remaster the whole Beatle catalog. I’ve seen Beatlemania twice and it is, for a Beatles fan, a great performance, but I only recommend it for the fans. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but is a nice stroll down a nostalgic path. From what I have heard, LOVE does bring some new insight to the songs as they are interpreted in stage art and not simply reprocessed. GBesides, with LOVE, it’s really the Beatles.

Elizabeth:
How would you compare and contrast Beatlemania with other notable segments of mewsic fandom such as Elvis fans, Deadheads, Parrot Heads, the KISS Army, etc?

Jamie:
Beatlemania really refers to the fans of a specific period in time, 1964 to 1966, when the Beatles were still churning out Bubblegum pop, but the mania, while still strong, calmed downed as their music grew. Beatle fans have no real avatar like KISS or the Grateful Dead.

Elizabeth:
And mewsic fans compared to comics fans?

Jamie:
Fans are fans as far as I’m concerned. People talk about the geeky and creepy comic book fans, but I’ve seen the same glassy stare coming from a Deadhead. Then again, maybe they were just stoned.

Elizabeth:
What did you think of Marvel’s 1978 Beatles comic book, Marvel Super Special #4?

Jamie:
I barely remember it. I did have it, but it’s long gone now. Most of what I remember is it had Paul McCartney being the catalyst for breaking up the Beatles. I think a better story line would have cast Galactus as the heavy with the Silver Surfer taking Sue Storm to India to hone her powers through Transcendental Meditation to help prevent the break up.

Elizabeth:
Unlike the prior KISS comic book I don’t think it was purrinted in real Beatle blood! Have there been any homages or references to the Beatles in your comics?

Jamie:
Yeah, I did a Let it Be thing just recently and I think Jubal said, “And in the End …” at one time. I’m sure there are others but I can’t remember them right now.

Elizabeth:
Or other recording artists or songs … there’s the microbus with various implements…?

Jamie:
Yeah, I had Jubal’s VW Microbus filled with shovel and rakes and implements of destruction at one time. Eon sang, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and I’m sure I’ve slipped in other song lyrics, but I can’t remember any right now.

Elizabeth:
Were Chelsea’s parent’s fans of The Beatles in the 60’s?

Jamie:
Diane, Chelsea’s mother, was into them like any other high school girl in 1964 and she liked Paul because he was cute, but her fascination didn’t last. She was really more into Motown. Chelsea’s father, Peter, did admire John Lennon for his political views, but other than that they were not big fans of the group.

Elizabeth:
We interviewed your characters back in the August 2007 Mew http://mewsings.wordpress.com/2007/08/01/the-catgirl-critics-mewsings-august-2007// wherein Eon mentioned that he saw Liberace in concert. Have any of your characters seen or met The Beatles?

Jamie:
It’s rumored that Lilith met John and George at a party in London, but that cannot be substantiated.

Elizabeth:
Eon was quite chatty. They were all so nice… although purrdon me for saying so but, Loki is one weird cat!

Elizabeth:
You are a writer and a visual artist- do you also have mewsical talent?

Jamie:
Ha! Ha! Ha! Uh …no.

Elizabeth:
While creating your Clan of the Cats characters in great detail, I understand that you even determined their favorite mewsic–?

Jamie:
Chelsea’s favorite band is The Vomiteaters (Yes, I made that up), a mixture of The Ramones and The Violent Femmes. She likes those two bands too. Mostly she likes punk, some classic rock, especially David Bowie, and ambient music lick Brian Eno, which she likes to meditate to. She likes to slam dance to the Clash.

Elizabeth:
And you have “theme songs” in mind for your characters…?

Jamie:
Chelsea’s themes are “Dracula Moon” by Joan Osbourne and “Putting Out Fire” by David Bowie from the Cat People soundtrack. The panther theme is “The Feeling Begins” by Peter Gabriel from Passion, the soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ. Diane’s is “Mona Lisa” by Nat King Cole, and the theme to her death is “Mother” by Shelby Lynn. Ben’s is Barry Sadler’s “Ballad of the Green Berets”. Jacob’s theme is ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky”, Paul’s is “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2, and Mel’s theme is “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who. Lilith’s theme is “Hurt’ by Johnny Cash. Wald’s theme is “Daybreak” by Harry Nilson and Dracula’s theme is “In the Garden of Allah” by Don Henley. Sebo’s theme is “When you Wish Upon a Star” by Jiminy Cricket

Elizabeth:
If a movie were to be made of Clan of the Cats, what sort of soundtrack would you purrfur it to have?

Jamie:
Gothic folk.

Elizabeth:
What are your favorite film scores and composers?

Jamie:
John Williams – Superman, Star Wars, Dracula (1979), Jerry Goldsmith – Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, Twilight Zone, the Movie, Louis and Bebe Barron – Forbidden Planet.

Elizabeth:
What are some of the most memorable concerts you’ve attended?

Jamie:
Rolling Stones, Violent Femmes, Paul McCartney (twice), Timbuk 3, Eugene Chadbourn.

Elizabeth:
If they want a Revolution, the internet has certainly done that to the recording industry. What is your opinion on that?

Jamie:
I think it’s great. I think Lennon would have loved music downloading, once it was all legal as Yoko kept a strict eye on the books, but finally here is a way to get from under the heel of the bastards called the record company.

Elizabeth:
What do you think of the various mewsic download technologies such as Napster, iTunes, and so forth?

Jamie:
I love iTunes, it’s the reel to reel of the 21st century. In the 1970s people would put music on an eight hour reel to reel. My iTunes collection will fill 17 days.

Elizabeth:
Can people download your web comics to their iPod?

Jamie:
I did have Sebo on a service called Click Wheel, but I pulled it off when the service when belly up. Click Wheel has resurfaced, but I’m not sure how they are doing.

Elizabeth:
Online distribution and mewsic downloads is a hot topic these days. As a writer and visual artist, you also use the internet to publish your work, that you earn a living from.
So as both a creator and a consumer, do you have any comments on this topic?

Jamie:
Yes. If you just can’t bear the thought of someone swiping your work then don’t put it on the internet. I’m not advocating anyone stealing anyone else’s art, but that is just the reality of it. You can prevent “right-clicking”, which is saving stuff on Windows, but there are also ways around that. It’s kind of like, if you don’t want you car stolen don’t leave the keys in the ignition. If you do find that someone swiped your art and didn’t give you credit asked them to do so and provide a link. Most of the time they will be glad to oblige.

Elizabeth:
A frequently asked question at discussions about internet publishing is “How do you make money off of it?” for those who came in late, care to address that?

Jamie:
The best way to address it is to not count on it. Unless you are in the porn or gaming industry you will struggle to make a living on the internet. You can make some money on the internet, but it’s not a living wage. If you want to get into comics, art, music or whatever via the internet you have to do it because you love it, not because of the money. It’s that simple.

Elizabeth:
What advice do you offer to folks who might wish to make money with their web comics via ads, subscriptions, donations, merchandise, and commissions?

Jamie:
Find a loving spouse who will support you. Seriously. Advertising is in flux right now, some say it is slowing down, possibly due to the American economy. As far as subscriptions go, you have to have something that is worth the price, which means more work. Commissions mean more work. Merchandise like key chains, t-shirts, etc cost money, so you have to make sure your webcomic is popular enough that people will by a product design around the webcomic. Then there’s merchandise you can make, which means more work. So, my best advice is to find somebody to help you, sleep only one hour out of every 24 or do what you can and forget about the rest.

Elizabeth:
What were the challenges of editing the North Carolina Web Comics Coffee Table Book?

Jamie:
Getting the introduction and working w/ InDesign CS2. InDesign is not a bad program and it is good at what it does, but it has a steep learning curve and feels like it was designed in 1998.

Elizabeth:
You also attend conventions and have a dealer or artist alley table…?

Jamie:
What the Hell Con is my favorite because the people there seem happy to be there. Trinoc*coN is the only other con I go to and it can be fun too, but it’s a little more strained.

Elizabeth:
What are some of your favorite cons and why? Any purrticularly interesting convention stories you’d care to share?

Jamie:
Chelsea came by the last “What the Hell Con”.

Elizabeth:
How are things with the NCWCCC?

Jamie:
Doing good.

Elizabeth:
What is your schedule for cons and club meetings for the near future?

Jamie:
An NCWCCC meeting and possibly Balticon in May. The Trinoc*coN in July.

Elizabeth:
For any given Clan of the Cats page, you plot & script it, pencil & ink it, letter & color it, send it to your editors, and upload it to Keenspot… three times a week. That does not even include other business aspects, or minding your message boards & journal. If there is such a thing as a ‘typical’ COTC page, about how long does it take you on average to do each of those stages?

Jamie:
It depends on the detail, obviously. I’m not big into backgrounds, so that cuts down on some of the time. Penciling takes anywhere from 1 ½ hours to 3 hours. Inking is usually 2 hours. Flatting, which is just putting the flat colors in takes about 1 ½ hours. Final colors can take two to three hours and lettering, if there aren’t many special effect sounds, general takes thirty minutes. Scanning, clean up and saving the files to various formats adds another 20 minutes to the process. Of course there are the exceptions. I did one page a couple of months ago which from script to finished jpeg took me three only hours. On the other side of the coin there was the page that took me 13 hours to finish.

Elizabeth:
Clan of the Cats tends to be more dramatic, whilst Sebo’s Kitty Club is more comedic. What is harder to write?

Jamie:
Both have their challenges. Sebo has to be funny and more upbeat, so I suppose it’s more challenging for me.

Elizabeth:
Are there any most frequently asked questions about Clan of the Cats?

Jamie:
When is the Dracula story going to end?

Elizabeth:
What sort of purrson reads Clan of the Cats?

Jamie:
A rough guess from what I hear on the boards is that they are a little older and a little more educated that the average webcomic reader. It is also a 50/50 split between men and women.

Elizabeth:
You’ve received many photos from cat owners. Any Russian Blues?

Jamie:
Oddly enough, no.

Elizabeth:
Could you tell us about what’s pending in Clan of the Cats?*

Jamie:
The Dracula story continues.

Elizabeth:
Any other projects on the horizon you want to mention?

Jamie:
Not at this time. Nothing going on.

Elizabeth:
I suppose that will wrap it up for now. Thank you very much for your time!

Jamie:
You’re welcome and thank you! http://www.wowio.com/users/searchresults.asp?nPublisherId=70

Elizabeth:
A much more in depth “Interview Between Friends” by Mike, focusing on Jamie’s web comics work, with images, is on the Clan of the Cats Year 1 CD http://clanofthecats.com/store/pages/CD.html an interview with his character Melpomene can be found in the Melepomene e-book http://www.wowio.com/users/searchresults.asp?nPublisherId=70 and look for an interview with his character Lilith in the future! That’ll end this segment of The Mew, but we’ll be back after this break, as Jeannie interviews Three Quarter Ale!

(Lizzy leaves so that Jamie and his pal Mike can chat)

The Taming of the Mew


Mike:
So whatcha wanna do between now and the luau? Some of the other guests are seeing the sites, going to the beach, shopping or heading on back to the ryokan.

Jamie:
Chelsea and I are going on the other side of the island. She wants to discuss certain “scenes” in upcoming COTC comics. Make sure Mel doesn’t kill anybody.

Mike:
Man, wouldn’t mind a nap- this has been a corker of a Mew today, and those catgirls are getting mischievous.

Jamie:
Aren’t they always?

Mike:
Yeah kinda, but they seem friskier than usual. It’s probably because this anniversary special is taking a lot longer- usually by now they are frolicking on the beach.

Jamie:
Well, they’re part cat!

Mike:
Yeah but so are Chelsea and Mel- and hey don’t get all giddy and glomp someone to paw at their yo-yo!

Jamie:
No. But Mel might rip their head off.

Mike:
Good point. Well I’ll say this for the catgirls- they’re good girls and the fiercest they tend to get is at sports.

Jamie:
Yeah, Chelsea’s a good girl, when she’s not possessed by an evil goddess and Mel’s … she’s very talented.

Mike:
Hey… did the Chattan sisters ever play any sports?

Jamie:
When they were kids they liked croquette, but Mel kept hitting things with the mallets. Mel likes hunting werewolves. I guess that’s a sport.

Mike:
Hey y’know you should try to get them back out here to the island to play some golf or beach volleyball or something… they could get up a team and maybe bring Beige and Lilith!

Jamie:
That would be your dream team, wouldn’t it?

Mike:
Well, they might enjoy a little break from fighting vampires and all the death and violence- just look how peaceful and tranquOWW!!

(Suddenly Mike is glomped by a pair of catgirls wanting the yo-yo)

Mary Nyan:
GIVE IT!

Yvonne:
NYA!

Jamie:
I’ll… see y’all at the luau! Take care!

(Jamie wanders back to the suite to mingle with the other guests a while, leaving Mike to sort things out with those kooky catgirls. )

Minutes later, Lizzy summons the other catgirls and Mike to the center’s Heliconia Hall…

Mike:
Y’all, this yo-yo nonsense has got to stop!

Elizabeth and Jeannie in unison:
(ears perked with curiosity) yo-yo?

Yvonne and Mary Nyan in unison:
WE’RE SORRY, NYA!

Mike:
It’s just not professional! Ah… Ok Lizzy, let me guess- another surprise Lightning Round?

Elizabeth:
Hai! And the topic is-

Lightning Round #4: Favorite Mewsic & Dance Shows on TV

Go Vonny! (tags Yvonne)

Yvonne:
Nazar- it shows lots of Bollywood mewsic videos, nya! Jennyjen, nya!(tags Jeannie)

Jeannie:
Shimmy on Fit TV, and Aubre Hill’s belly dancing show on All Star Workouts. (tags Mike)

Elizabeth:
Aren’t those… Fitness Shows?

Jeannie:
Yes but they are also about dancing, as in belly dance!

(makes her cat tail roll)

Elizabeth:
So desu.

Mike:
Austin City Limits, Soundstage, and An Evening with the Pops! (tags Mary Nyan)

Mary Nyan:
Headbangers Ball, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, The Midnight Special, and American Bandstand. And The Osbournes and Gene Simmons Family Jewels, if those count!. Back to you, Lizzy!

Elizabeth:
Mine are Caliente, The Grind, Soul Train, Sabado Gigante, and Dancing with the Stars!

Jeannie:
That was a purr-oper Lightning Round.

Mike:
Good job, Jen! (looks at his clip board) Ok girls, Jen, you’re up next at the Sakura Stage, so better get a move on–

Jeannie:
Hai! (departs)

Mike:
Vonny, you’re due over at the Bougainvillea-

Yvonne:
Hai! (considers another attempt on the y-yo but then departs )

Mary Nyan:
I’ll be at the Plumeria.

Mike:
Rrright… and Lizzy- I guess you’re all done for a while so you can unwind a bit…

Elizabeth:
(mischievously) Unwind… like a yo-yo, purrhaps?

Mike:

sigh. Well folks, next we go to the center’s splendiferous Sakura Stage where

tqa

Photo by Chip Talbert
One Full Catgirl plus Three Quarter Ale =
Jeannie’s Interview with Rivka, Becky & Dolph!

Jeannie:
Hello everybody! I’m on the Sakura Stage with Rivka Levin- (pronounced leh-VEEN), Becky Cormier & Dolph Amick, also known as Rosemary Quench, Ariana Pellayle & Wicked Pete Speakeasy, who together form the famous power trio from Atlanta known as Three Quarter Ale http://www.threequarterale.com/ ! Welcome to Catgirl Island, y’all!

Jeannie:
Please help yourselves to this snack tray! So, your mewsic is essentially… perky Renaissance Folk Rock?

Rivka:
That’s a good way of describing it in shorthand. Really, we sound like no other band I’ve heard, because we all have such different influences, and each of those influences show up in our music. All three of us have Musical Theater degrees, and that clearly manifests itself in our onstage performance style. I have a strong Opera and Jazz background, which shows up mostly in our madrigals and in some of the more “talky” songs, like Two Magicians. Listen to Dolph’s guitar playing and some of Becky’s vocals, and you’ll clearly hear their Bluegrass and Rock backgrounds The short version: we’re a Celtic Rock band with influences of musical theater, bluegrass, Opera, jazz, and rock & roll. :)

Dolph:
Ren Rock (or Ren Rawk, if you prefer) is what I always call it, hoping it’ll catch on. …And actually, I don’t have a musical theatre degree. I was in the BFA Acting program at UNC-Greensboro, and minored in music and dance.

Becky:
I love the “Ren Rock” moniker that Dolph came up with…it’s the shortest, most concise description I can think of that accurately describes what we do. We all come from such diverse musical backgrounds that it’s really difficult to pigeonhole us into any existing category!

Jeannie:
How long have y’all been together and how did y’all meet?

Rivka:
We’re heading into our seventh year together! Becky and I really became acquainted nine years ago, when we played together in a band called Stone Soup. When that band, er, “disbanded”, we asked around to see if anyone knew a good guitarist (at the time, our instrumental abilities were more limited) who could sing, and our friend Kara (now Dolph’s wife) told us, “Well, my boyfriend plays guitar.” We figured that probably meant that he played three chords and thought he was hot sh*it, but he was the best lead we had. So we interviewed him, and it seemed to be a compatible enough situation to begin with, so we formed the band on a sort of trial basis. Little did Becky and I know that Dolph not only REALLLLY played guitar, but that he also was a versitile singer, a fabulous actor, and a superb songwriter. Seven years later, the friendships are even stronger, and we’re still going!

Dolph:
That’s pretty much it, although I will note that, being more of a metal guitarist, folk and pretty acoustic music really wasn’t my thing… but it seemed like we all wanted the same sorts of things out of a band situation, so we gave it a try. …And I guess we’re still trying. ;)

Jeannie:
Where was your debut?

Rivka:
The first time we played together in public was our audition as Three Quarter Ale for the Renaissance Festival. (Becky and I already worked there, but we were asked to reaudition as a band.) They hired us on the spot, and that season’s Ren Fest was our first gig!

Jeannie:
Could you tell us how far y’all have travelled to purrform, and what your tour schedule is like?

Rivka:
We’ve been to Raleigh-Durham NC, repeatedly to Charlotte NC, South Carolina, and all over GA, including Savannah. Because all three of us work year-round as actors, our “tours” are really weekends squeezed in around our individual show schedules.

Jeannie:
We were recently in Georgia and went to the fun Dogwood Festival in Atlanta! How often do y’all meet, to rehearse, plan concerts, handle business chores and so forth?

Rivka:
Unless we are absolutely slammed with other (non TQA) work, we like to meet at least once a week to rehearse, and we frequently get together at a restaurant for a “band meeting”. We rehearsed twice a week in order to get some new material off the ground in time for this season’s Georgia Renaissance Festival http://www.georgiarenaissancefestival.com/, which started April 12th.

Jeannie:
So, what purrcentage of your songs are traditional, and what purrcentage are your original compositions?

Rivka:
Hmmm… I would venture a guesstimate that 50% of our songs are traditional (written more than 70 years ago and therefore in the public domain), 45% are original, and 5% are modern – for example, we do some holiday music that is from the 1940’s and more recently.

Jeannie:
Which of those songs are your favorites? Mine is the Fox song!

Rivka:
So glad you like it!! Honestly, my favorites change from season to season. Usually, it’s whatever we’ve just mastered and is still fresh for us. But I will always love Shalom and Farewell, Intertwined, Wild Mountain Thyme, and Mon Coeur. What can I say… I like the pretty ones!

Becky:
Like Rivka, Wild Mountain Thyme has long been a favorite of mine. I also love Intertwined, but I also love the rockin’ ones like Written in the Stars and Sails of Silver.

Dolph:
Hm… I have some that are my favorite songs to play, some to sing, and some to listen to recorded. I think the first song we ever rehearsed was “Maid on the Shore”, and it’s still one of my favorites to play on the guitar; there’s so much going on in that part. I often find the madrigals the most satisfying to sing, although “Lover and His Lass” is one of the most fun for me, as well as being probably my favorite recording of us.

Jeannie:
Who are your biggest mewsical influences?

Becky:
Wow…I’ve got so many! Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls was the woman who made me want to learn guitar. I grew up on Broadway classics-Bernadette Peters and Bebe Neuwirth were always favorites. Rocker chicks like Pat Benatar, the ladies in Heart, and of course, the gypsy lady Stevie Nicks.

Rivka:
Mine are Peter, Paul and Mary, the Indigo Girls, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Pearl Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, Beverly Sills, and two long-time friends from the Georgia Renaissance Festival: Fiona Leonard Brown from Wine, Woman, and Song and Matthew Trautwein of the Lost Boys.

Dolph:
Hard to say… I have very eclectic tastes. My dad is a classical musician (he was the principal horn in the NC Symphony for thirty years), and when I was first starting to form my own musical opinions, I also had my mom in the house listening to R&B and hip hop, and my older sister, who was into alternative and punk. As I started on the guitar, I got into heavy metal and bluegrass on my own. As a professional musician, I play a lot of different stuff for the places I work, and I can learn to like almost anything if I play it enough. Did that answer anything?

Jeannie:
Y’all play the harp, flute & guitar- any other instruments?

Rivka:
Among us, we have three trained voices, two guitars, one harp, a doumbek, a bodhran, a flute, zills, shaker eggs, tambourines, several penny whistles, and a mandolin, all of which we use in live performance. In recordings, we have also played banjo, electric bass, various hand-held percussion instruments, and keyboards. Dolph used to play euphonium and I played trumpet a long time ago… I suppose it’s only a matter of time before those show up on a recording somewhere, too!

Dolph:
I’ve also been known to play the Dobro for a show here and there, and I play a lot of upright bass at one of my jobs.

Becky:
I’m also in a rock band, and play keyboards (in addition to guitar and flute)!

Jeannie:
A rock band? I’ll have to tell Myayr about that. It is her favorite mewsic. What make ‘n model instruments do you purrfer?

Becky:
My favorite flute is an Armstrong open-hole, which I love (and incidentally was a gift from the biggest Jethro Tull fan I know, Jeff P. of Mickle-a-Do). I love my Norman folk guitar, because it’s a little smaller than your average acoustic, and therefore is easier for me to play with my small hands. Though my heart will always belong to acoustic, electric is fun, too! I own two of each. My acoustics are a Norman folk guitar, and a Takamine acoustic-electric. My electrics are an Ibanez JS 1000 (which my husband custom-finished for me with stars and moons, of course!), and a Fender Standard Stratocaster.

Jeannie:
And the keyboards?

Becky:
A Roland SH-201 for the more synthy stuff anda Korg X-50 with the more orchestral sounds.

Jeannie:
Please tell us about your fabulous costumes too!

Rivka:
Our “band colors” are officially burgundy, royal blue, and hunter green. Because Becky’s character Ariana is very celestial (she’s a gypsy who can read the stars), she tends to wear a lot of sun/moon/stars jewelry and many silver accents. My character Rosemary is more earthy (and it just occured to me that the name supports that, being an herb! I chose the name long before we established the characters well enough to have costume “themes”.), and tends to wear floral jewelry and trim – mostly roses – with gold accents.

If Ariana is sky and Rosemary is earth, Dolph’s Wicked Pete is mostly liquid, specifically alcohol. He tends to wear eclectic jewelry with strong African and Caribbean Island influences… and is accented with dirt. :) If you really want to get in depth with this, Ariana’s costume clearly reflects her gypsy heritage and her dabblings with Druid healing-craft. Rosemary tends to dress more sumptuously than the other musicians, since before she became a professional musician she was a member of the merchant class whose father was a mercer (cloth merchant). Wicked Pete’s costume reflects his life of travel, and always includes his “signature”: a muffin hat.

Dolph:
Pete is meant to look like part of the band as far as the color scheme goes, but his costume is also supposed to be reminiscent of one of those vaudevillian’s suitcases you always see in old movies; you know, the ones with a transit label from every whistlestop, “Butte”, Salt Lake City”, “Peoria”? I figure Pete’s traded a lot of items with other chummy bar patrons as he’s traveled around. There is a secret story behind the ever-present muffin hat… but you’ll just have to wait for the movie. ;)

Jeannie:
I have a few questions for each of you individually. So let’s start with Becky. Becky, please enlighten us about Ariana Pellayle!

Becky:
Ariana is a half-gypsy who was raised in a gypsy caravan, but was considered something of an outcast due to her blond hair and blue eyes-inherited from her father, a British nobleman. As such, she tends to be a bit wary of strangers, since she was so teased and tormented as a child. She also has some training from the Druid healers. She loves music (of course!), and loves to dance as well, when she’s not encumbered by her own instruments. Ultimately, she is kind-hearted, and once you have earned her trust, she is fiercely loyal (particularly to Rosemary and Pete). Though she is uneducated, she is still intelligent (and thanks to Rosemary, is finally learning to read), but can be a bit flaky at times…she is blond, after all! Her Gypsy nature means she is passionate about all things, and as such, tends to argue (with Pete especially) more than is probably necessary.
Jeannie:
What is Karma Lingo?

Becky:
Karma Lingo was a Progressive rock band featuring myself, the original Lost Boys, and Nancy Myers. We played 70’s influenced original rock and roll. The band broke up at the same time as the original Lost Boys.

Jeannie:
That is neat! I will definitely have to mention that to Myayr! Could you tell us about the Shakespeare Tavern?

Becky:
The Shakespeare Tavern is “a place to eat, drink, and nourish the soul.” We do Shakespeare and other classics of the theatre (Dickens, Steinbeck, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams), and we try to do them as the playwright originally intended (original practice). Before the shows, we have a wonderful menu of traditional British Pub style food and other yummy options, and also beer!, available for purchase. We run 51 weeks out of the year, and typically do a different play every 4-6 weeks. We also do a large amount of educational outreach, including student matinees at the Tavern, and Playshops where our actors go into the schools and work directly with the students.

Jeannie:
I think Mike needs to take us there!

Becky:
I’ve been acting there since 1998 (my first show was Pericles), and on staff working at the box office since 2000. Rivka also works there, as an actor and Development Director (grant-writing), and Dolph has appeared onstage in “The Fantasticks,” as Mortimer. Check it out online at www.shakespearetavern.com

Jeannie:
I understand that you like to jazz , tap, ballroom, and belly dance?

Becky:
Yep! Dancing was my first passion. I studied dance for most of my childhood and teenage years, and wanted to be a professional dancer, until I, um, developed, if you get my meaning. I went to college to study Musical Theater instead, so I could still use my dance training. At college, I joined the CUA ballroom team, just for fun. I’m out of practice now, but I did compete at the college level for a couple of years!

Jeannie:
What kind of ballroom dance do you enjoy most?

Becky:
All the Latin dances, especially the Cha Cha and the Swing/Jive. Being so short, I had difficulty getting all the long lines needed for the more standard dances like Waltz and Foxtrot. Plus, the CHa Cha and the Jive are just FUN!!!

Jeannie:
We like to dance too! Lizzy likes to Salsa, Myayr teaches Hula, Sometimes Vonny dances when she is drumming, and I belly dance too!

Becky:
Belly dance is something I’ve only dabbled in, and not really “officially”, but it’s on my to-do list to actually take a class and learn how to do it for real, instead of just faking it.

Jeannie:
Do you watch Shimmy on Fit TV?

Becky:
Funny you should mention that…I just found it a couple weeks ago, and it’s now a staple on my TiVo!

Jeannie:
Rivka, for those who have not read the wonderful story on the web site, could you tell folks a bit about it?

Rivka:
Jeannie, just FYI I’m the one who writes The Story. Do you want me to tackle this question, or do you still want Becky to answer it? I’m ok either way.

Jeannie:
oops- gomenasai!


Becky:
She’s the one actually writing it. It came out of a discussion we were having early on, about our characters’ backgrounds (as an actor, it’s always good to have a backstory!), and we were having such a fun time trading tales of our characters’ lives, that Rivka turned to us both and said, “Hey, guys, I think I’d really like to write this!” Whenever she has a new chapter or two ready, she
sends it to Dolph and I to read and make any suggestions, and then eventually Dolph gets it up on the website!

Jeannie:
Well they are most charming, and such a delightful part of the site! What are some of your favorite authors and novels?

Becky:
I tend to gravitate toward fantasy and historical fiction. I love Tolkien and the ” Lord of the Rings” saga. One place I got a lot of inspiration for Ariana (the moon she wears on her brow, for example) was Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon.” I also love all the Harry Potter books, Philippa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl,” the George RR Martin “Song of Ice and Fire” series, and pretty much anything dealing with Arthurian or Celtic myth and legend.

Jeannie:
That is a distinctive moon brow, and wonderful list of authors! What is your opinion of the film adaptations of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter?

Becky:
I have really enjoyed them all. I’m glad I read the books first, of course. I hate that certain things had to be left out in the transition from book to film, but I also understand that film is a completely different medium, and there are time constraints. You can’t fit an entire 600 page book into a 2 1/2 hour film! Also, that some things that worked well on paper woudln’t necessarily translate to film, and vice versa.
That all being said, I think ultimately the filmmakers of both franchises managed to make entertaining movies that stayed true to the spirit of the books, if not necessarily to the letter.

Jeannie:
I like the horror scope part of y’all’s web site.

Becky:
Thanks! I’m glad people enjoyed that. It was a joint effort idea that I’m glad went over as well as it did.

Jeannie:
Astrology seems complicated, what with the various zodiacs, sidereal, Chinese… How would you advise someone to get started? Any sources you’d recommend?

Becky:
Astrology is really complicated, and something my character Ariana is much more interested in than I am. I really don’t have any good places to start, but with the internet out there, I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to find! Whenever I need information, i basically just do a web search, and if I really like a site, just bookmark in for future reference.

Jeannie:
Speaking of the web site, it is exquisitely designed, intuitive to navigate, loads quickly and has lots of informative & entertaining content! Dolph, that’s your handiwork, right?

Dolph:
Yes, I suppose I’m to blame. Thank you very much for saying so! …When I originally started designing the website, I was looking at the sites of big bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Duran Duran, which had a lot of advanced content. Being new to the whole process, I was starting to get overwhelmed… but then I saw a couple of very simple but elegant sites that convinced me that it would be more important for users of the TQA site to be able to find things easily, rather than trying to WOW ‘em with crazy effects. I deliberately try to keep the site very uncluttered… and I’m so glad to hear that it loads fast! That’s definitely something I put a lot of time into.

Jeannie:
Dolph, what are your favorite web tools?

Dolph:
I use Macromedia’s Dreamweaver, and Flash now and again… but certainly one of the most useful tools for me is Macromedia Fireworks. It’s indispensable for optimizing pictures, making text gifs… these days I use it more than Photoshop.

Jeannie:
Please tell us about Wicked Pete!

Dolph:
Pete grew up in a somewhat low-class English tavern owned by his poor mother, in a humble village close to the border of Wales. When he was of age, he was sent to study at his Uncle Tycho’s observa-conservatory in Italy. Young Pete was far less interested in the studies of rhetoric and mathematics than he was in hanging about with the colorful musicians of the area. After Tycho’s passing, Pete left school without completing his studies and began to wend his way through Europe, earning what little money he could by performing on his sole inheritance… Uncle Tycho’s new-fangled instrument, the guitar. He is slowly finding his way back to his hometown when he meets the girls…

Jeannie:
So you are originally from Durham!

Dolph:
Yep, born in Raleigh, grew up in Durham. Left at age 18, as you do.

Jeannie:
I read of your fondness for 80’s bands- who are some of your favorites?

Dolph:
Duran Duran, certainly… both Becky and I are fans. Other faves include The Time, Screaming Blue Messiahs and hair bands like Ratt and Def Leppard.

Jeannie:
And you met Jackie Chan??? Wowzers! So what was it like meeting him?

Dolph:
Sadly brief, especially after waiting in line for two-and-a-half hours at Wal-Mart for his book signing. I got totally star-struck and tongue-tied and it was all over before I could take it in, although I did have time to note that for a guy who’s made a living jumping off of buildings, Jackie’s got weirdly soft hands. I was redeemed, though, when I recognized Jackie’s friend and bodyguard Kenneth Lo guarding the door and struck up a brief conversation with him. Kenneth has played heavies in dozens of Jackie’s films and is an amazing fighter… he was extremely nice and I felt like the most hardcore fan in the place for recognizing him.

Jeannie:
Please tell us about the purrduction of Godspell you’re in!

Dolph:
It will be at The Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta http://www.theatricaloutfit.org/. I‘m really stoked… I’ll be playing guitar in the band for the show. This is the third production of Godspell I’ve played for, and the second time I’ve played it with this band. The arrangements will be similar to some of the rocked-out 21st-century revivals of Godspell, so lots of heavy guitar! I’m so excited; I rarely get to play much electric guitar these days, but it’s really my first love in a lot of ways.

Jeannie:
There’s a Super H Mart in Duluth now. It has a big seafood section, and there are nearby shops that serve bubble tea and shave ice.

Dolph:
I guess that’s good news if you have hairy ice.

Jeannie:
It is a tasty treat. Speaking of seafood, have y’all been to the Aquarium in Atlanta?

Dolph:
Not yet… I hear it’s expensive but amazing.

Jeannie:
Please tell us a bit about the Georgia Renaissance Festival!

Dolph:
Two miles of wacky accents and cheap pewter! …and honestly, it’s our special home, where our friends are and where all things TQA started from. The GA Ren Fest is always a fun and exhausting time for us.

Jeannie:
Is your CD Intertwined a live or studio recording?

Dolph:
It’s a studio recording, although “Mon Couer” and the dialogue was cut with all of us at once in the studio. It was all recorded and mixed in my home studio, then mastered by Glenn Schick.

Jeannie:
It is available as either a CD or MP3 downloads at http://cdbaby.com/cd/tqale – so what other merchandise might we see from Three Quarter Ale?

Dolph:
Well… there have been one or two little things… bumper stickers, pins made by a few crafters… but that’s mostly it right now. We’ve contemplated shirts. What would folks like to have? Most of our thought usually goes into the act itself at this point; there’s not much merchandising. …But we’re open to suggestions, and I’ve always wanted there to be a Three Quarter Ale comic book.

Jeannie:
Aside from the Georgia Renaissance Festival, what other purrformances do y’all have planned, as a group or individually?

Dolph:
I’m betting TQA will probably be at a few of our standard gigs in the months to come, like Dragon*Con and PiratePalooza. The girls perform regularly at The New American Shakespeare Tavern, and I’ll be at Stone Mountain Park through the summer and back at Theatrical Outfit in the fall for Big River. Keep checking the website for updates!

Jeannie:
Now let’s turn the spotlight on Rivka! Rivka, please tell us about your character Rosemary Quench!

Rivka:
Rosemary is a Jewess whose real name is Rachel (pronounced in the Spanish, Rah-QUEIL), but she goes by Rosemary so as not to invite trouble. (Remember that the characters were initially created for the GA Renaissance Festival – no Jews in England at that time.) She is both intrinsically intelligent and well-educated, and she loves a practical joke. Rosemary is a bit enigmatic, but on the surface it is clear that she is extremely loving, spirited, witty, admittedly very moody, highly sensual, generous, and hugely passionate.

As you can read in The Story on the Three Quarter Ale website, Rosemary views her musical ability as a “gift-with-purpose” from G-d, and sees it as her “mission”, if you will, to bring over-worked and downtrodden people grace and joy through her music… to use her voice and harp to elevate the lives of others. Is it any wonder that angels are depicted as playing the harp? It’s the kind of instrument that brings the listener serenity without half trying. Rosemary has a huge heart, is extremely dramatic (both a positive and negative), and lives to make others laugh. Besides making music, Rosemary loves to read, sew, and cook!

Jeannie:
She has a yummy recipe for Kasha Varnishkes!

Rivka:
Thank you! It’s my mom’s… she’s a GREAT cook!

Jeannie:
I understand that while at Syracuse, you were part of a group called Every Five Minutes, and did important work as a rape crisis counsellor?

Rivka:
Almost. I was not actually a counselor, more a representative and teacher. Every Five Minues was a group of student actors who educated fellow students about rape and sexual assault by enacting scenes which went from a “stable” or neutral situation and worked up to a point where it was clear that a non-consentual sexual event was about to occur. Being able to see it in progress both taught potential perpetrators where the “no” was actually a “no” (in the case of date rape) and not a “maybe” or a coy “yes”… and taught potential victims how to make choices that were different from the characters’ in order to head a potential rape off at the pass, or at least be clear in the event of a rape that they were NOT at fault, not “asking for it”, and that they should not feel shame or guilt.

(Also what to do if the student was him/herself raped, or if a roomate or friend was raped. One funny bit of tongue-in-cheek dialogue from a “what NOT to do” scenario was, “Wow, bummer. Well, do you wanna call someone? I think there’s a crisis number around here somewhere. Where’s my pen? Hey – do you wanna order pizza while we wait for the counselor? You should probably shower before they get here…” (* Rivka shudders* ) Following the scenes, we actors answered audience questions first as our characters, and then finally answered questions as representatives of the University’s Rape Crisis Center. I learned from all of this that theater is one of the most explosively effective and yet sadly under-used teaching tools at our disposal.

Jeannie:
And you’re in Equity… how is that different from SAG?

Rivka:
Yes, I’ve been a member of the Actor’s Equity Association – the professional actors’ union – for 11 years. The only difference is that Equity is for live performance (stage), and SAG (Screen Actors Guild) is for film. Both unions are designed to regulate the working environment and requirements for actors for their safety, and to provide health insurance and pension for actors, since we frequently don’t have “day jobs” through which the same would be available.

Jeannie:
Who are your favorite actors and directors?

Rivka:
I can’t say that I have a favorite director, but among my favorite actors are Emma Thompson, Madeline Kahn, Dame Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, and Kevin Kline.
(As you can see, I have a STRONG bias both for comedy and for British actors.)

Jeannie:
Please tell us about Zimrah!

Rivka:
I’m smiling, because I am so thrilled that you asked! Zimrah! was a Jewish Girls’ Choir designed for girls from Orthodox families who – because of their religious observation – could not perform in other professional choirs. I was hired by the founder to conduct and music direct the choir, since at the time I was one of the only people in the Atlanta Jewish Community who had both the professional background AND the understanding of the Judaic issues, having grown up in an Orthodox family myself. The girls in Zimrah! were between 4th and 12th grades, and were taught classical vocal production, music theory, and stage presence.

The choir is now defunct, but many of those girls have attended or are currently attending the Temima High School for Girls, an Orthodox girls’ school for which I direct an annual original Musical, and with whom I made a CD last year. These girls are very precious to me, and working with them has been a hugely rewarding experience. Some of them are also extremely holy girls… there’s really no other way to put it… and working so closely with them has had a profound impact on me spiritually.

Jeannie:
What mewsicals have you directed at Temima Girls High School?

Rivka:
Lord, there are too many to name! (I’ve directed one every year for the past ten years.) They are all written by the founder of the school, Miriam Feldman, who is also the wife of one of Atlanta’s most respected pulpit Rabbis, Rabbi Ilan Feldman. (Rabbi Feldman has a national reputation, for that matter, and his father, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, is an internationally recognized scholar and leader.)
She is a woman who is extremely skilled in outreach, and she is also a fine writer. Moreover, she has an exceptional insight into human behavior… all of which has led her to write an original musical every year on some topic with which she feels the Atlanta Jewish Community needs to become more familiar, or see in a different way. Her plays therefore have the dual value of being creative outlets for her students (as well as a way to teach them to follow through on projects, work as a team, show responsibility, etc.) and being a teaching tool for the community.

Remember what I said about the rape-crisis performances being an unusually effective teaching tool? Mrs. Feldman really GETS that to the marrow of her soul, and uses it repeatedly. As we speak, I am in the rehearsal process for All Her Daughters, which is the story of Sara Schenirer, a Chassidishe woman living at the turn of the 20th century. It was she who founded the Bais Yaakov movement, through which girls first started getting a formal education in Judaic studies. Before the Bais Yaakov movement, only boys had this opportunity. (Remember the movie Yentl with Barbara Streisand?) This doesn’t sound like a big deal until you come to realize that the Bais Yaakov movement is DIRECTLY credited with saving the lives of Jewish girls during the Holocaust and is considered the primary factor in the rebuilding of European Jewry in the years following the Holocaust. That play opens – yikes! – at the end of this month. Wish us luck!

Jeannie:
What advice can y’all offer to aspiring mewsicians, actors, and other purrforming or recording artists?

Rivka:
#1: Get some formal training in your craft. Even if you are naturally gifted and are largely self-taught, the training will give you some much needed “street cred”. Moreover, it will be an opportunity for you to meet and work with other professionals, which brings me to #2: NETWORK your little heart out. I’d say that literally 90% of my jobs have come not from auditioning, but from being recommended to someone by a friend. And in conmnection with that, #3: NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE without your business cards. It is the single most important promotional tool you have, and every single time you step out of the house carries with it the potential to turn into a networking opportunity. I am *still* getting work calls from people I bumped into at a restaurant or party YEARS ago. Having a business card to hand them on my person at the time is still paying off in real, paid work.

Dolph:
I have only one piece of advice. I spent my high school and college years playing guitar by myself in my bedroom. I wanted to play out, but not before I was “good enough”. But how do you know when that is? The answer is that there’s no measure of it. The only way to truly develop is to get out and play with other people. I wish I’d done it years earlier… there are plenty of people in the world who play out all the time who aren’t any “good”… so what have you got to lose? There’s no substitute for the experience you get by just diving in and doing it.

Becky:
Dolph and Rivka both gave some really good advice, and I would agree with the points they made. I’d also say, don’t go into the performing arts unless you REALLY love it, because it’s a tough field. Yeah, it’s fun, but it’s also long hours, lots of rejection, and sometimes the fear of not knowing where the next job is coming from. That being said, it’s also one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, so if it’s really your passion, just go for it, and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t or you shouldn’t. Follow your heart.

Jeannie:
What advice can you offer to folks who would like to make, purrchase, or wear period costumes?

Rivka:
My unique shape (4’10” and extra curvy – my friend Lorraine describes my figure as “opulent”!) has led me to design most of my costumes so as to insure that they are flattering and that they don’t have to be hemmed six inches at the skirt and sleeve, which is the case for me with most of the off-the-peg outfits sold at Ren Faires. Plus, I’m a fabric whore… er, I mean, “enthusiast”… with a great passion for color and texture, so I like to pick my own materials. I say, make friends with a really good seamstress or tailor (we know several!), and design your own!

Dolph:
Honestly? Buy a sewing machine. Don’t pay the absurd Ren Faire prices for lame designs and lousy fabric. I mean, if you see something really nice, knock yourself out… but the basics are easy to fashion yourself, and for a LOT less money.

Becky:
Again, I agree with my bandmates. Sure you can find pre-made stuff out there, but more often than not, the affordable stuff is poorly made or not really period, and the really nice stuff is really expensive. Make friends with a tailor or seamstress, or teach yourself to sew! (I can’t sew a lick, so I married a costumer instead. ;) )

Jeannie:
Does Three Quarter Ale have a group of henchmen, such as roadies or administrative folks, or is it pretty much a three person operation?

Rivka:
AHHHHHHAAAHAHAHAAAAHAHAhahaha!!!!! Ahem. Excuse me. I *wish* we had roadies and an administrative staff. Occasionally our male friends – particularly of the Peterson Family variety – will offer to carry a harp or guitar for us, but beyond that, we write our own checks, wash our own costumes, change our own guitar strings, repair our own instruments, and carry the whole bloody lot ourselves.

Dolph:
…although we have all kind of fallen into certain roles in some areas. For instance, Becky maintains the mailing list, Rivka takes care of our bank deposit bag, I do the website… stuff like that. I could sure use a roadie, though. Let me know if anyone’s interested. Long hours, no pay.

Jeannie:
KISS has the KISS Army, the Grateful Dead has Deadheads, Jimmy Buffet has Parrot Heads- what sort of fan following do y’all have? Any groupies?

Rivka:
Um… the “Aleheads”? Our fans simply call themselves our friends, and we count ourselves lucky. We are extremely gratified that we *do* have groupies and a dedicated following, but as yet no name for these fine folk has materialized. As far as I’m concerned, such a name really needs to come from the fans themselves, not from us. Once they start calling themselves something that catches on, we’ll be happy to oblige.

Dolph:
I dunno if we have groupies, but we do have a few guys who will dash to the front of the stage to watch the girls’ “ring-a-ding-ding” dance during “Lover and His Lass”. We do have some pretty dedicated fans, bless ‘em.

Jeannie:
Who is Morley?

Rivka:
Morley is our horse! During our first year at the GA Renaissance Festival, many of our sets were in front of a big yellow and brown wooden structure affectionately known as the “Tinker’s Wagon”. The space suited us, and in creating The Story, we sort of appropriated it and made it “our” wagon in which we stowed our gear and occasionally slept while on the road. (In The Story, it’s really all due to the wagon that Rosemary and Ariana meet Pete! So as you may guess, it’s a very important part of our lives.) But of course, what’s a wagon without a friendly equine companion to pull it? So we invented Morley… and he is so much a part of the Three Quarter Ale family that not only is he prominently featured in The Story, but he appears multiple times on each of our CDs. He has his own personality, and you’ll hear him adding his own 2 cents’ worth on our song Traveling Wagon from the Intertwined CD.

Dolph:
At one early rehearsal, I suggested that our horse needed to have a musical name… I actually suggested “Sforzando” first… but we eventually settled on naming him for Sir Thomas Morley, the prolific English composer of scads of madrigals, including TQA favorites “Now Is the Month of Maying” and “Sing We and Chant It”.

Jeannie:
Could you compare / contrast the challenges of purrforming indoors to outdoors?

Rivka:
Indoors is cooler! (The GA Festival takes place in the Spring, which means an average of 80 degrees.) For me, despite the weather, I prefer outdoors. It just seems more appropriate to have Three Quarter Ale performing on a makeshift wooden stage or a grassy field than in a hotel lobby or some other modern structure.

Dolph:
Performing outside is definitely tougher in some ways… it’s harder to make ourselves heard without walls to bounce the sound off of, although we have loads of volume; the weather is also rough on our instruments. We definitely prefer performing unamplified whenever possible… it just sounds more natural and it’s easier for us to hear, blend and match each other. I love it when we perform in the Shakespeare Tavern… the rustic setting suits us, plus the liveness of the room means we can get very subtle and still be heard.

Becky:
Performing outdoors can be so taxing both on our voices and on instruments-they take lots of wear and tear due to the elements! I definitely prefer indoors so as not to have to deal with all that, but
at a smaller venue. The Shakespeare Tavern really is the perfect place for us, as Dolph mentioned, because it’s got that old-world feel, and is still intimate enough that we don’t need any sort of amplification.

Jeannie:
You’ve purrform at Renaissance festivals and science fiction conventions… how about Faerie Festivals, Mewsic Festivals, or other types of events?

Rivka:
We have played for the North Georgia Celtic Festival on several occasions, an AARP Christmas Luncheon, a church Boar’s Head Feast, numerous Celtic Coffeehouses, the Savannah Shakespeare Festival, countless weddings, an event hosted by a university for the students, and we even gave a concert following the play I wrote and mounted as required by my Master’s Thesis. Heck, we’ll play for your dog’s birthday party if you ask us to… we’re just excited to perform. :)

Dolph:
We’ve actually wound up doing quite a few sci-fi/comic conventions. That vibe suits us pretty well, as it turns out… plus Becky and I can go shopping for geek stuff.

Jeannie:
Is ‘filking’ a part of Rennfaires / festivals, or is that more akin to science fiction / fantasy conventions conventions?

Rivka:
My experience has been that many of the same people attend both sci-fi conventions and Renaissance Festivals, but that filk music is really only sung at the Cons.

Dolph:
…although the Rennies and pubgoers always love a good singalong!

Jeannie:
Do you know any catgirl songs?

Rivka:
Not at present, but we’d be happy to learn some!!

Dolph:
…or write some. What rhymes with “nekomimi”?

Becky:
Unfortunately, no! You’ll have to teach us some!

Jeannie:
Hee! Thank you all so very much for granting this interview! I hope you enjoy the rest of your visit to Catgirl Island, and wish y’all continued fun ‘n success!

Rivka:
It is absolutely our pleasure!!! Thank you so much for YOUR time, and for asking us to interview!

Dolph:
Thanks, take care and keep in touch! :)

Becky:
Thanks for inviting us to Catgirl Island!

Jeannie:
We’ll be right back after this important break!

(Mike enters the ballroom to thank the good trio for the interview, discuss their island vacation arrangements, and special luau dinner plan for later. Jeannie shows the mewsicians to their courtesy shuttle, then wanders up to the Dogwood Deck to sip milk and nap in the sun until her purr-esence is later required.) Meanwhile, Mike is dealing with-

An Impurrtinent interviewer Catgirl in the Beautiful Bougainvillea Ballroom

Yvonne:
I am not impurrtinent- I just went surfing too soon after I drank too much chocolate milk that one time, nya!

Mike:
Ah… that’s not what you think that word means… now clip on your microphone while I get the refreshments.

Yvonne:
(tail swishing, eyes shut with huge grin) Mi–ike, nya?

Mike:
(bringing a pitcher of cran apple nummy berry drink out for the next segment) what?

Yvonne:
Give me the yo-yo!

Mike:
It would only distract you during the interview. Now are you all prepared for the next segment?

Yvonne:
Hai!!!

Mike:
I’m going to the to Rose Room to bring out our next guest!

Yvonne:
OK… nya.

Mike:
If you behave, I’ll give you the yo-yo at the end of this Mew!

Yvonne:
Hee!

Mike:

(returns with the next guest) Jeff, this is Vonny, your interviewer!

Jeff:
Hello, Vonny. Nice to me you. Thanks for inviting me.

Yvonne:
(offers Jeff a cran apple nummy berry drink) Would you like a tasty beverage, nya?

Jeff:
Glad to. Anything with “apple” in it is a winner with me.

Yvonne:
it’s time for-

Jeff


photo by Jeff

Pink Lady and Jeff: Yvonne’s Interview with Jeff Branch, nya!


Yvonne:
I’m in the beautiful Bougainvillea Ballroom interviewing Jeff Branch, who’s come all the way from Philadelphia to talk about Pink Lady and other interests, nya! The web site of his expurrtise is Pink Lady America http://www.pinkladyamerica.com/ , nya!

Jeff:
Thanks for the plug. I appreciate it.

Yvonne:
I understand that you became a fan of Pink Lady whilst in the Navy and stationed in Japan, nya. So what did you do in the Navy and how long were you in it, nya?

Jeff:
Well, I served in the Navy for twenty years as a Storekeeper. As the name implies, we were responsible for maintaining various sorts of stores onboard ships, everything from nuts and bolts, pens and pencils, toilet paper and Xerox paper to repair parts and sophisticated, super expensive electronic components neccessary to keep the ship running.

Yvonne:
Thank you for your military service, nya What kinds of ships have you been on, nya?

Jeff:
I spent nine of my twenty years on ships, though not all in one stretch. That would’ve driven me insane. Heh! I had been on combatants (a frigate and a cruiser); a supply ship which carried huge amounts of stores which we issued to other ships while at sea (was that ever grueling) and an amphibious cargo ship that carried Marines and their equipment from place to place so they could storm the beach and raise hell in operations overseas. Overall, being on ships made for an exciting experience as I got to travel to many foreign lands, especially Japan.

Yvonne:
So it was in the autumn of 1977 when you discovered Pink Lady- just a few months after Star Wars came out, nya?

Jeff:
Pretty much. About a couple of months after seeing Star Wars for the third time while stationed at Pearl Harbor (and was bummed because I didn’t have time for a fourth viewing), my ship was transferred to Yokosuka over in Japan. Being in Japan was absolutely fascinating, being in an honest to gosh foreign country full of all sorts of different and highly interesting cultures, food, people and entertainment. Not only did I discover Pink Lady, but anime too, though, at the time, I just thought it was just another kind of cartoon. Boy, was I ever wrong on that score!

Yvonne:
Space Cruiser Yamato was big then too, nya! What did you notice of the anime scene in Japan back then, nya?

Jeff:
Well, Vonny, like you said, Yamato (called “Star Blazers” when it came to the States in 1980) had been the first show I noticed. I also saw just how amazingly detailed and intricate the animation was compared to the stiff, dull and boring cartoons shown in America. And, it was on practically all the time, not just Saturdays and Sundays but weekdays as well. I also remember watching giant robot shows (better known today as “mecha”) too. Even to a clueless knucklehead like me, it was like anime was an industry. Years later, I’d learn it actually was.

So that was approaching the height of Mie & Kei’s popularity, in the late 70’s… could you give us an idea of just how big they were, nya?

Jeff:
My gosh! It was phenomenal, no, beyond phenomenal. The closest example I could give, and this wouldn’t be an exaggeration, but Pink Lady’s popularity in Japan during that period was not unlike Beatlemania over in Great Britain back in the 60’s. Mie and Kei were literally the 800 pound gorilla of Japan’s entertainment industry, their records sold like hotcakes, their concerts packed in fans like sardines, including one show in the summer of 1978 in a baseball stadium that was said to have had an attendance of around 100,000 people! The girls were fixtures on TV singing their hit songs, they were pitchwomen for dozens of products, they even starred in their own motion picture and animated biographical series. I swear, you literally couldn’t turn around on the street with seeing Mie and Kei somewhere, anywhere! Speaking of industry, Pink Lady actually was that as dozens of products from toys to clothing were sold with Mie and Kei’s likenesses on them.

Yvonne:
What sorts of Pink Lady stuff did you start collecting nya?

Jeff:
The first thing I started with were cassettes of their music (LP’s took up too much space, plus I didn’t have anything to play them on) as in best hits collections and live concerts where the girls put on a darn good show. Next up were books and magazines and pictures, heck, I even bought a poster which I hung over my bunk onboard ship.

Yvonne:
What did your fellow sailors think of that nya?

Jeff:
I think my shipmates got a good laugh out of my little obsession. They didn’t at all understand what Pink Lady was all about (come to think of it, in the beginning, I wasn’t exactly an expert either), but they thought it was cool, and, like normal, hormone driven young men, they thought Mie and Kei were cute. HA!

Yvonne:
How was your Japanese then and how hard was it for you do stuff in Japan, nya?

Jeff:
Oy vey! Japanese was about as easy for me to read, write and understand as, say, Klingon, but, thanks to a pocket sized Japanese to English dictionary I bought after my arrival in Yokosuka, I managed to learn just enough to be dangerous. Getting around via train was easy as station signs were in both native kanji and English, and I appreciated that as I love to ride trains. Still do. Ordering food in Japanese was a tad more difficult as I had to read phrases from my little book, butchering the language as I went, but, surprsingly, I got by.

Yvonne:
Their popularity waned a bit by the early 80’s, but didn’t they have a TV show here, nya?

Jeff:
That’s right, Vonny. Pink Lady’s handlers brought them to the States in early 1980 to co-star in a six episode long comedy-variety show called “Pink Lady and Jeff”, the Jeff in question being Jeff Altman, said to have been a young, up and coming comic. To say the show wasn’t must see TV would be an understatement, in some ways, PL & J was a train wreck as the combination of two Japanese singers who barely spoke passable English and a mostly unknown comic made for a disastrous mish-mash that was said to have effectively killed the comedy-variety show genre and, over twenty years later, PL & J was named one of the 50 all-time worst shows by TV Guide. But, something good did come out of the show as, after I launched my Pink Lady website in the late 1990’s, I heard from lots of people who became fans of Mie and Kei after watching the show.

Yvonne:
So Mie & Kei disbanded for solo mewsic & acting careers in the 80’s – how did that work out for them, nya?

Jeff:
The girls did very well for themselves. Having been so overwhelmingly popular during their time together, Mie and Kei cashed in that fame as they both became successful solo stars, both in the recording studio, and on the soundstage as they got into acting, doing starring roles in movies, Mie on the big screen, Kei on the small screen. And, their days together as Pink Lady never really ended as the girls held numerous, and successful reunions over the years.

Yvonne:
How are Mie & Kei alike and different, nya?

Jeff:
Well, as near as I could tell, seeing the girls together in performances and television intereviews, Mie looked to be more outgoing while Kei was more reserved. Both girls were possessed of bright and cheery personalities and looked to have enjoyed being in the limelight while having the time of their lives.

Yvonne:
How would you compare J-pop of the 80’s to that of the 70’s, or J-pop of the past decade to the ‘old school’ type, nya?

Jeff:
Ahh, a good question! A couple of years after I launched my website, I made a note to study J-Pop to learn what it was like through the decades. The 70’s were said to have been the “Golden Age” of J-Pop with many popular singers like Pink Lady, Candies and solo acts like Momoe Yamaguchi, all of whom went on to become legends of J-Pop. The singers of that time were young, fresh faced and energetic, singing mostly cute and frothy bubblegum tunes, and in the case of Pink Lady and Candies, dressing the singers in matching costumes was an homage to American girl groups like The Surpremes.

The 1980’s (the Silver Age) ushered in more polished, stylistic singers, some of whom like Akina Nakamori and Chisato Moritaka patterned themselves after Madonna, mixing 80’s style pop and flashy dance moves. Oh, yeah, the 80’s also turned out plenty of girl groups too, the most notable of which being Onyanko Club which, at it’s height, sported some two dozen active members! But the most popular group of the 80’s were called Wink, a two woman hit producing machine who were said to have been the Pink Lady of the late 80’s and into the early 90’s because of how hugely popular they were. The 80’s were more cheerful with more talented singers, unlike the late 90’s and 00’s as the singers didn’t seem to be as talented or dazzling as their predecessors. But that’s just my opinion.

Yvonne:
You started your web site Pink Lady America in 1998. Please describe that purrocess, nya.

Jeff:
“Purrocess”. HA! I like that. To be perfectly honest, the website began as nothing more than a lark after finding a one page webpage about Pink Lady which mentioned “Kiss in the Dark”, Mie and Kei’s one and only U.S. single. At the time, I had a goodly amount of PL memorabilia which I had collected during my time in Japan, so, I got the wild idea to create my own webpage, my dirt simple rationale being to run it up the flagpole and see if anyone would salute. I started small, just a main page, a crude contents page, an introduction and brief biography about Pink Lady and a scant few picture gallery pages, all of which I put together with a WYSIWYG webpage creation program as I had zero knowledge about HTML. Heck, to this day, I’m still rock stupid about it. In the beginnning, I don’t think I had more than a couple dozen pages when I first launched the site. Ten years and a whole lot of saluting by fans later, the website has over 200 pages!

Yvonne:
Your site is quite extensive, with so much information & galleries, nya! I understand that it has been written about, nya?

Jeff:
Oh, yeah! It sure has, especially via the Internet as I’ve gotten a goodly amount of publicity, most notably in Japan as my site is part of a huge organization of PL websites and webpages, called The Pink Lady Network Association of Japan, or simply, PL-NET. Of course, all the info there is in Japanese, but hey, it’s still a treat to check out. In fact, my website was written up in a Pink Lady book that came out in 2003. There was a picture of the main page of my site and all. I thought that was absolutely awesome!

Yvonne:
it is celebrating 10 years, and recently got the 150,000th hit- congratulations, nya! What do you anticipate in the future of your web site, nya?

Jeff:
Future? HA! This might surprise you, Vonny, but I have absolutely no idea. To be perfectly honest, I never thought I’d make it this far. Like I said, this had been just a wild lark, it never occured to me that a website devoted to a Japanese pop duo from the late 70’s would become so popular, nor that I would hear from so many people who became both rabid fans of the Ladies, and very good friends of mine, including Mike. For the most part, the future will be to continue presenting new, fresh and interesting features about Pink Lady, including video capture features from the many hours worth of footage I’ve accumilated.

Yvonne:
They did some successful reunion concerts, and their merchandise was quite collectible, right nya?

Jeff:
Most definitely. Pink Lady’s last reunion and concert tour in 2003-2005 was said to have sold a considerable amount of merchandise, mostly concert programs, professionally taken concert photos, t-shirts, hand fans, mugs, disposable lighters, all sorts of interesting stuff. I managed to snatch up a few items, though nearly as much as I would’ve liked.

Yvonne:
How difficult is it to find Pink Lady stuff, and where are the best places to get their mewsic or merchandise?

Jeff:
Well, for the most part, it’s quite a challenge. The easy stuff to get ahold of are music CD’s from both U.S. based Internet outlets like Amazon.com and Japanese resources like CDJapan. Beyond that, stuff like memorabilia from thirty years ago when Pink Lady were at their prime is almost impossible to find. I troll online auction sites occasionally, but the pickings are thin to non-existent. I suspect one reason for that is because Japanese collectors of PL memorabilia are highly reluctant to let go of their goodies, so next to nothing winds up online. And I can’t say I blame them.

Yvonne:
Haven’t you seen them in concert- please tell us about that, nya!

Jeff:
I went to see Pink Lady in August of 2003 after a contact I had over in Japan got me tickets, and it was quite a wonderful experience. Even though Mie and Kei were in their mid 40’s at the time, they exuded all the youthful charm that made them so popular wa-a-a-a-y back when they were in their 20’s. Pink Lady isn’t just about singing, nosiree, a big part of the act are the dance routines that accompanied all their chart topping hits, and the Ladies were in fine form. Just as much fun of being at a Pink Lady show were the fans in the audience both singing AND dancing along with Mie and Kei. And yeah, I tried to mimic the dance moves, though with next to no success. A klutz with two left feet would look like Fred Astaire compared to me! HA!

Yvonne:
Does Pink Lady, Mie or Kei have official sites, nya?

Jeff:
Yes they do. After all, what would a celebrity be if he or she didn’t have a website? Heh! Mie’s is: http://www.web-mie.com/, and Kei’s is: http://www.uguisu.co.jp/~kei-office/index02.html however, it doesn’t seem to be active at the moment.

Yvonne:
Do you think Mie & Kei have been to your fine site, nya?

Jeff:
I don’t know for sure, but I like to think they have. I mean, I’m sure they must be aware of my shrine to them, or have been told about it since it’s the only non-Japanese PL website around.

Yvonne:
Was there a special celebration for Pink Lady’s 30th anniversary, nya?

Jeff:
Now that’s a good question. I believe there was, or has, but I’m not sure. Since I read Japanese about as effectively as I can fly the Space Shuttle, I’m really not sure. However, from a commercial standpoint, all of Pink Lady’s albums, some of which have never been on CD were re-released a couple of years ago to celebrate the occasion.

Yvonne:
Would you like a refill, nya?

Jeff:
Most certainly. This is pretty good stuff. Wish I could find it at my local supermarket.

Yvonne:
It is a signature beverage here, nya! So, what are your favorite Pink Lady albums or songs, nya?

Jeff:
Favorite PL songs? Well, that’s kinda hard to decide on because I enjoy them all so much. But, I have to put “Wanted” at the top of the list sicne that was the very first Pink Lady song I heard after I arrived in Japan in August 1977. It’s a strong, aggressive sounding song that hooked me from jump street. Oh, and here’s something about “Wanted” that’ll make you chuckle. Part of the lyrics included Mie and Kei, sweet and cuddly as they come actually singing “son of a bitch”! Now ain’t that a hoot! HA! My favorite PL album is “America! America! America!” which was Mie and Kei’s concert in Las Vegas at the Tropicana held 30 years ago last month. I thought it was awesome that the girls performed live in the U.S.

Yvonne:
Besides Pink Lady, what other mewsic do you like, nya?

Jeff:
I like old school stuff, Vonny, pop and rock from the 60’s through the 80’s, plus Motown which I grew up listening to at home as my late mom was a huge fan and played it on the radio all the time. Give me stuff by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Monkees, Blondie, ABBA, Duran Duran, Cheap Trick and I’m a happy camper. I also like J-Pop (Japanese Pop) from the 70’s (Pink Lady, Candies, Momoe Yamaguchi) and 80’s (Chisato Moritaka, Akina Nakamori, Wink) which I found to have been peppy and highly enjoyable.

Yvonne:
You have another web site, Scribe of the Moon http://www.geocities.com/scribeofthemoon/ for your own Sailor Moon fan fictions, nya. So you discovered Sailor Moon in the late 90’s, about the same time you launched the Pink lady site, nya?

Jeff:
Just like with my Pink Lady site, my Sailor Moon fanfic site was done mostly on a whim, something I thought would be fun to do, and, much to my surprise, it has been fun, giving me an outlet for my desire to write fiction. Fancy that. Heh!

Yvonne:
What attracted to you to that anime series, nya?

Jeff:
Curiosity, mostly. Way back in the mid 90’s, I stumbled onto the show when it was on Cartoon Network weekday afternoons. I was already familiar with anime, but had never seen a show where the stars were teeneaged heroines in fancy, short skirted costumes fighting bad guys and monsters, and it attracted me from jump street. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to get home every day and tune in the show as it had become a passion of mine. And, to this day, it still is.

Yvonne:
You were inspired to write your first Sailor Moon fan fic, Frankenstein Syndrome. Please tell us the origin of that, nya!

Jeff:
Be glad to, Yvonne. After discovering Sailor Moon fanfiction sites and reading a boatload of stories from other authors, I got the itch to craft stories of my own. However, I decided to make my first story unique in that I had the Sailor Scouts fighting human adversaries instead of their arch enemies from the Negaverse. As fate would have it, I got the idea for my story from watching the original Frankenstein, and from there, I came up with my villains, Kenji and Keiko Mitsumo, twisted sibling scientists creating horrifying man-monsters for an amoral U.S. Army general as living weapons to use in the war against global terrorism.

Yvonne:
Do you collect much Sailor Moon stuff, and have you read the manga of it, nya?

Jeff:
Oh, yeah, I’ve read all the manga and bought the first two seasons of the anime in the original Japanese which I found to have been remarkably different in terms of content from what I ahd seen on TV. In fact, regarding the first season, I had seen several episodes that were never shown on TV.

Yvonne:
What are some other manga & anime you like most, nya?

Jeff:
Good heavens! Do you have the time? I like all sorts of genres in anime and manga: mecha (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam Wing), humor (Love Hina, Excel Saga), sci-fi (Ghost in the Shell, Silent Mobius), shoujo (Peach Girl, Boys Over Flowers), horror (Red Garden, Hellsing), fantasy (Fushigi Yugi, Ah! My Goddess), girls with guns (Gunsmith Cats, Noir) you name it, I’ve watched it.

Yvonne:
Besides anime, what about other favorite science fiction, fantasy & horror movies, TV shows, books and comic books you like, nya?

Jeff:
Let’s see, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, I have a sizeable collection of monster movies and sci-fi flicks, I’m a real nut for documentary shows on TV, seriously geeky stuff like Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, How It’s Made, Build It BIgger and Cold Case Files. Admittedly, I don’t get to read as much in the way of books like I used to while in the Navy, but when I do, I enjoy Trek novels along with the occasional Mack Bolan (a.k.a. The Executioner) book. And yes, I’ve loved comic books ever since I was a kid, but I’m a lot pickier about what I read today than I was when I was younger.

Yvonne:
I figured you must also be a Star Trek fan, give your Sailor Vulcan stories, nya!

Jeff:
Quite right, Yvonne! After having written several Sailor Moon stories, I came up with the wild idea to create my own heroine, and that gave birth to the enigmatic Talia Kirk, Sailor Vulcan in the story, “Across The Millennia”

Yvonne:
Talia has visited Catgirl Island a few times, often with her friend Tanya, Sailor Sirius. How did they meet, nya?

Jeff:
Talia and Tanya were introduced by Serena (Sailor Moon) in a wild and crazy adventure where the three girls wound up fighting four mad scientists who recreated Professor Tomoe’s heartsnatchers in a perverted plot where they’d use stolen heart energy to offset the world’s energy crisis. From there, Talia and Tanya became fast friends who are now closer than sisters. Since then, the girls have had their own exciting adventures.

Yvonne:
What does she think of Pink Lady, nya?

Jeff:
Not much, really. Talia’s musical tastes is severely limited in that she listens mostly to classical music. She finds pop music, regardless of the language shallow and superficial and totally lacking in logic. However, since Talia’s boyfriend (yep, despite being a Vulcan, she’s discovered the joys of being in love and having a lover) is a famous Japanese pop singer, she’s slowly learning to appreciate all kinds of music.

Yvonne:
For a supposedly unemotional Vulcan, Talia sure does enjoy her make up, jewelry and swim wear!

Jeff:
Yeah, isn’t that wild? Credit Tanya for that as she’s spent a lot of time teaching Talia to appreciate her stunning looks and how to accent her natural beauty. And Talia took to stuff like makeup and jewelry like a fish to water, oh, yeah, speaking of which, she loves to swim, thus her passion for fancy swimwear.

Yvonne:
Please give Talia & Tanya our regards and tell them to please visit again soon, nya!

Jeff:
Be glad to. They both had a great time on Catgirl Island, even though Talia would be hard pressed to admit that. You knnow how those silly Vulcans are when it comes to expressing emotions.

Yvonne:
What are your plans for that site, and can we expect new stories soon, nya?

Jeff:
Well, I’m currently working on a new story, but life and other stuff has been keeping me busy, but I hope to post it on my site soon. Stay tuned!

Yvonne:
I would imagine there are many other fans, artists and writers in a city as big as Philadelphia, nya! Are there many festivals, clubs and conventions there, nya?

Jeff:
Ahh! A good question. Philadelphia has it’s own fair share of conventions that come to the city, the most notable being Wizard World which comes here every June, bringing lots of the biggest names in comics to town. As for festivals, we have the Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day. It’s kinda hard to describe as the parade, a fixture in Philly for well over a century has large groups of people in fancy constumes strutting down the largest, longest street in town to mobs of cheering spectators.

Yvonne:
Hopefully we will not see you on that TV show Parking Wars which is filmed there, nya! Have you run up the Rocky Steps, nya?

Jeff:
Heavens no! HA! I’ve seen Parking Wars and it’s a pretty wild show, but I don’t do much driving in downtown, so I manage to avoid what I’ve come to call the Parking Authority Gestapo. As for running up the legendary steps of the Philadelpia Art Museum like Rocky had—-most definitely! I wouldn’t be a Philadelphian if I didn’t, but it’s not as easy to climb all those steps as one would think. I like to think I’m in pretty good shape for a guy my age (49), but those steps can tire you out by the time you reach the top.

Yvonne:
In addition to the Rocky movies a lot of movies have been filmed in Philadelphia… there is a list of them at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Philadelphia_in_film_and_television
including 1776, Mannequin, Philadelphia, National Treasure, Trading Spaces, 12 Monkeys, Witness, and several of M Night Shyamalan’s films.- have you seen any filming done there, nya?

Jeff:
Sadly, I’ve never seen any filming done in the town, but I wish I had. A good portion of filming on those movies you mentioned were done in the downtown area (Witness at 30th Street Staton, National Treasure at Independence Hall) and the historical district which are popular places. Oh, yeah, portions of the Mark Wahlberg action flick, Shooter were done here too, and I think I read somewhere that some filming for the CBS cop procedral show, Cold Case is done here too. Filming for movies is also done in the immediate suburbs, as in the case of M. Night Shyamalan’s flicks.

Yvonne:
Pennsylvania seems to be a good spot for movies, nya!

Jeff:
Yep, that would certainly seem to be the case. It’s a shame more films and/or TV shows are filmed here, I mean, there’s more to the U.S. than New York or Los Angeles after all.

Yvonne:
A lot of movies and TV shows have been filmed here in North Carolina too, nya! Well, we’re about done, but just a few more questions, nya! What advice might you have for fellow collectors out there, nya?

Jeff:
First and foremost—-budget!! Don’t try to spend all your money on everything in sight. Trust me, I tried doing that while trolling online auction sites for Pink Lady memorabilia, bidding on lots and lots of stuff, then spending myself blind on stuff I’ve won. It can become quite an obsession, epecially if you can’t control it.

Yvonne:
What advice can you offer… to someone wanting to create a major web site dedicated to their favorite hobby or topic, nya?

Jeff:
HA! Advice? To be honest, when it comes to websites, I’ve been utilizing the Indiana Jones method, in other words, I’ve been making up as I go for almost ten years now with the Pink Lady website. Much to my surprise, it’s worked so far. HA! But, seriously, I guess that the best advice I can impart is to plan and organize all your ideas for a website as best you can before you hop on your computer to put it together. Being organized makes everything run more smoothly. Makes me wish someone had given me that advice way back in 1998!

Yvonne:
One more.. any advice for aspiring authors, nya?

Jeff:
Yep! WRITE!! Write as much as you can, as often as you can. Put as much passion and energy into what you write about as possible. Build honest, believable characters, characters whose story and adventures readers will want to enjoy.

Yvonne:
Thank you very much for coming to Catgirl Island to be interviewed- I hope you enjoy the rest of your visit, nya!

Jeff:
Oh, I most certainly will! Got my point and shoot digital camera and I’m eager to snap some pics as mementos of my stay here.

Mike:
Thanks folks! Jeff, did you wanna take the tour before we all meet for supper-
(tosses the yo-yo to Vonny as he leaves the room with guest)

Yvonne:
Nya!!! (happily pounces on the yo-yo)

Mike:
I guess I’d better buy a few more yo-yos this afternoon! (phones the Catgirl Island Concierge office)

The Best Pies on Catgirl Island: the Catgirls Discuss Sweeney Todd

(All but one guest has departed to see the island sites, as Mary Nyan & Mike purrpare for the final interview of the show with the sensational Lisa Kyle. The other three catgirl critics wind down and sip bubble milk tea and sample the award-wining pies of the Center’s Chrysanthemum Cafe…)

Yvonne:
MMMMMMMM! The pie is good, nya!

Jeannie:
Our guests got to taste the pies while in the waiting lounge.

Elizabeth:
While we wait on Myayr, what shall we converse about?

Jeannie:
it would be appropriate to discuss the mewsical Sweeney Todd, which just recently came out on DVD!

Yvonne:
I missed that film in the theatre which is a shame because it is a great movie, nya! Do we want to review the movie, or the disk?

Elizabeth:
Purrhaps we could each select an aspect to comment upon.

Jeannie:
I will start with a brief description of the film. Sweeney Todd is the Tim Burton film adaptation of the Tony award winning Steven Sondheim mewsical. Nominated nominated for many awards, it won Golden Globes for Best Actor- Johnny Depp- and Best Picture- Mewsical or Comedy. Purroduced by Daryl Zanuck, It stars Johhny Depp in the title role his sixth collaboration with Burton. Helena Bonham Carter stars as Mrs. Lovette, Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin, and Timothy Spall as his assistant Beadle. Sacha Baron Cohen portrays Todd’s rival Pirella, and Ed Sanders was cast as his assistant Toby. Todd’s wife Lucy is played by Laura Michelle Kelly, daughter Johanna played by Jayne Wisener. It is macabre mewsical tale set in Victorian England, of a razor-wielding barber’s quest for revenge upon the Judge who falsely imprisoned him years ago and stole his wife. Initially Todd and Mrs. Lovette conspire against just the Judge, but soon begin to slay innocent victims, finding a culinary use for the bodies, whilst Todd attempts a reunion with his wife. Vonny?

Yvonne:
The purr-duction design of this film brilliantly depicts the damp gray architecture and atmosphere of London of the period, the purrfect setting for the pale skinned, sunken-eyed elegant gothy beauty of the cast who conduct such morbid activities, nya. It is a very bloody film, as it sprays brightly from severed throat arteries, so the gore in this R rated film is not for the faint-hearted, nya. Were Sweeney in the old American wild west he’d purr-obably be a gunfighter, but in the metropolitan Victorian London his deadly tool is a straight razor, which he treats like it was a dear old friend, nya. Although his quest for vengeance seems understandable given what was done to him by the corrupt officials, but like a Frankenstein’s monster, ultimately he and Mrs. Lovette become just as evil, as serial killers who profit from murder, nya. But in spite of the gore and heinous acts, along with the beautifully designed & photographed sets & costumes is the splendid Sondheim vocal and orchestral mewsic, purr-duced for the film by Mike Higham. I think this is an excellent movie, and I would recommend it to fans of mewsicals, Victorian period pieces, or dark angsty tales of revenge, purr-vided they have no purr-oblem with the gore FX, nya!

Elizabeth:
There are different editions of the Region 1 DVD, including a 1 disk, 2 disk, and a special metal boxed set. The one we got was the 1 disk edition, which does not have a lot in way of special features, but does sell for a lower purrice, which is good should you just wish for the the movie and not the extra bits. The R-rated widescreen format film runs 116 minutes, and the menu has 4 sections: play movie, audio set-up, scene selection, and special features. Language choices include English 5.1, French and Spanish, with the option of English, French, Spanish or no subtitles. The sole special feature on this edition is the 26 minute documentary featurette “Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd”. Among the commenting members of the cast & crew in this featurette are stars Johnny Depp & Helena Bonham Carter, director Tim Burton & purr-ducer Daryl Zanuck, Steven Sondheim & Mike Higham, vocal coach Bruce Witken, co-stars Alan Rickman Ed Sanders, and Jamie Campbell Bower.

Yvonne:
I bet if Myayr were here she would have said more about the movie than all three of us combined, nya!

Jeannie:
She is the thorough critic.

Elizabeth:
Purr-haps we should go peek at her interview segment?

(Elsewhere, after their own numcious round of refreshments, Mary Nyan and Lisa begin the interview)

lisa


photo by Doug Arble?

Mew Wanted the Best and Mew got it: Mary Nyan’s Interview with Lisa Kyle


Mary Nyan:

(throws the shaka sign) Hi hi! I am so honored to be here in the Plumeria Pavilion with wonderful vocalist Lisa Kyle! She has toured up and down the east coast, but these we are so lucky to have her back home in North Carolina where she graces the stage to entertain crowds of all sizes with her electric and acoustic sets. Lisa, thank you so very much for being here and granting the interview! Now then, you once starred as Annie Oakley in a purrduction of the mewsical Annie Get Your Gun. Do you ever want sing any Irving Berlin these days, or are you strictly rock & roll?

Lisa Kyle:
WOW!! That’s funny !! Strangely enough, Mary… I still have recurring dreams where we are suddenly performing ‘Annie Get Your Gun” again after all these years and I’m freaking out trying to remember all the lyrics to all my songs !!! I LOVE singing ALL kinds of music these days….classics to current and everything in between….especially ALT COUNTRY this minute….there is great beauty in diversity !

Mary Nyan:
Such theatre purrductions combine singing, dance choreography, and acting… how much of the latter two purrforming arts still interest you?

Lisa Kyle:
I am still quite smitten with the stage…although I’ve not been any productions lately… I got a big thrill a few years ago when I was playing Unplugged at a local venue and a New York talent scout/casting director just happened upon our show. He asked me if I had ever heard of the off-Broadway production of “Love, Janis”…a musical based on letters Janis Joplin wrote to her sister during her great rock and roll adventure…of course, I WAS familiar with the show and even owned a copy of the book it was based upon. The gentleman was RE*casting the role of Janis and asked me if I was willing to come to New York to audition….He told me he thought I would be perfect for the part. I did indeed manage to get myself to the Big Apple for my audition and it went GREAT!! The musical director was very complimentary and wanted me to stay another day and work on songs with the band. I just knew this was the big break I had been waiting for…. but alas….for whatever reasons…theatre politics or
not…the powers that be did not smile down upon me…what a wonderful experience, though… Now.. back to your question, Mary….I guess we all incorporate a bit of acting in our every day lives…as for the dance aspect – I DO tend to get a little crazy onstage singing & dancing sometimes…just less choreographed…more freestyle improv !! :)

Mary Nyan:
Regarding your early career, when was it first evident that you had mewsical talent?

Lisa Kyle:
When I was around 3 or 4 years old – I remember listening to great old records with my Mom and Dad and eventually singing along with my favorite songs…dancing all around the living room. My Mom had this beautiful ceramic bottle with this cool removable top (think genie bottle)she had made in ceramics class and I would grab this bottle top and sing into it pretending it was my microphone. I was a big hit at Mom and dad’s get-togethers !! My Dad would always play ‘Hit the Road Jack’ when it was my time for Lisa Kyle to ‘hit the sack’….

Mary Nyan:
How did you explore that, to find out what you were best at, such as singing, dancing, playing instruments? What training and support did you receive in the days of your youth?

Lisa Kyle::
I think I began singing at church around 5 or 6. Then in 1st grade I was asked to be part of the musical, Oliver and I got bitten by the ‘bug’…. I just loved being on the stage !! In 3rd grade I portrayed Michael Jackson in a Jackson 5 skit for our talent show. Junior high school brought me many more theatre opportunities and I was blessed with great teachers, like Doug Rayle – who encouraged me and taught me a great deal. My parents played a tremendous role in promoting my music and acting early on… through piano lessons, theatre workshops, etc…..

Mary Nyan:
Aside from mewsical training, what was your education about the business aspects of mewsic?

Lisa Kyle:
I never really delved into that aspect ’til I was in college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and suddenly found myself booking, promoting and playing real ‘paying gigs’…. and I had to learn fast….

Mary Nyan:
So what is your vocal range, and how would you describe the mewsical style of Lisa Kyle?

Lisa Kyle:
My vocal range is pretty extensive. I started out being considered a soprano but I’m actually more of an alto and most enjoy singing in my lower register. (Please don’t tell me voice teacher from UNC – she’d KILL me) My style?? Well, after spending way too many years emulating my favorite singers – I have finally found out what Lisa Kyle really sounds like…. it’s pretty cool…. I’m a bluesy soul singer…. or so I am told…. and that’s ironic ’cause with me…. whether I am singing hard rock, alt. country, R&B, or pop music – one common denominator is ever present… SOUL….. I sing in a manner that I hope will affect you… touch your heart… in some way…..

Mary Nyan:
What about your image: hairstyle, make-up and the fashions you like to wear on stage?

Lisa Kyle:
I’ve always just kinda been me…funny thing is, sometimes my unique, ecclectic fashion sense has almost overlapped the ‘latest look’…but most times, not ! No worries to me ! I guess I kinda incorporate alittle bit of my faves and mentors into MY deal…. from my Pat Benatar boots, Joan Jett haircut (back in the day)and Stephen Tyler influenced scarf-laden microphone stand to most recently, my love of wearing cool hats on stage !! I have ALWAYS been a big fan of vintage western-style cowboy shirts – especially with that killer embroidery…. and cowboy boots !!! Can’t get enough of ‘em !! And YES – I do still wear an armful of sterling silver bangle bracelets – my little tribute to the 80’s, baby !!

Mary Nyan:
Glitz and glamour has purrhaps always accompanied entertainment, but when MTV came along, image seemed to become even more important to the mewsic industry. What are your thoughts or concerns on that?

Lisa Kyle:
Seems like alot of great artists lost their record deals when MTV hit and we could all actually SEE them….kinda sad….Nowadys it seems like it is far more important to LOOK GOOD than to SOUND GOOD. A lot of the newer artists just cannot perform live…it’s crazy…While I do agree it’s great to have ‘the look’….I still think is is more important to SOUND good….I guess I’m ‘old school….

Mary Nyan:
How do you mentally, physically purrpare and rehearse for a show?

Lisa Kyle:
Believe it or not, Mary…the single most important step for me – for mental AND physical readiness and preparedness is……REST !!! A good night’s sleep is a MUST before a show !! And I do try to workout on a somewhat regular (albeit sporadic) basis. It takes alot more stamina than you might think to ‘rock out’ all night !!

Mary Nyan:
Who are your favorite recording artists, mewsicians, and song writers?

Lisa Kyle:
Another tough question, Mary…. I love sooooo many artists…. My favorites include (but are in no way limited to…) ELVIS PRESLEY !!!! Aerosmith… love me some Steven Tyler… the Black Crowes… Jason & the Scorchers… KISS… Cry of Love… DAG… of course, all my girls… Pat, Ann, Stevie, Johnette (Concrete Blonde), Sass Jordan…. My man turned me onto GRAM PARSONS – the creator of ‘cosmic country’ and changed my life forever !!! Lucinda Williams, Kasey Chambers, Ryan Adams & Whiskeytown, Son Volt, and ANY bands that Shilah has in the SIN CITY realm…..oh yeah….and lately, I have been digging the original music of the Cosmos Harvesters…Mitch McCauley – songwriter…..oh ! and Joe Campbell and the Swamp Candles….

Mary Nyan:
Do you write?

Lisa Kyle:
hmmm….that’s a touchy subject, Mary ! I’m a frustrated guitar student AND a frustrated songwriter. I write pages and pages of lyrics but can’t seem to convert them easily into actual songs….Through the years, I have acquired a small catalog of songs I have written/co-written and am currently trying to get those all together on a cd. I am determined to write more….that’s one of my goals for this year !! Keep your fingers crossed !!

Mary Nyan:
What are some of your favorite songs or albums?

Lisa Kyle::
Joey by Concrete Blonde…Wishes by Jon Butcher (he’s amazing)…Stranglehold by Ted Nugent… my absolute favorite song is ‘A Song for You’ by Gram Parsons….with Emmylou Harris singing sweet harmonies… actually any and all GRAM songs and any and all Whiskeytown songs… especially when Julian sings ‘em……..

Mary Nyan:
Besides mewsicians, who are other big influences on your craft?

Lisa Kyle:
my family and friends….they ALWAYS influence my music….and whatever happens to be going on in my life at any given moment…..

Mary Nyan:
What was the first concert you attended?

Lisa Kyle:
My friend, Ginger and I snuck over to ELON University to the old Alumni gym to rock out with local legends Mother’s Finest and Nantucket !! Baby Jean (lead female vocalist-Mother’s Finest) was up there belting it out and she changed my life forever !! I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up !! (Wait a minute…am I a grownup now ??)

Mary Nyan:
What are some of the best concerts you’ve been to?

Lisa Kyle:
Bruce Springsteen show the day after Johnny Cash passed away… the first KISS show I saw at Madison Square Garden…. Kenny Wayne Shepherd at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach… Los Lonely Boys…Heart…at HOB, too….crazy in love…..

Mary Nyan:
We’ve seen photos of you with famous rock stars- any neat stories you care to share?

Lisa Kyle:
Yeah, I have been really blessed in that department ! I’ve gotten to meet… hang out with, eat dinner with… a lot of my musical heroes !! I actually got to meet Steven Tyler and Joe Perry a few years ago when my friends in Fighting Gravity (Richmond VA) opened up for Aerosmith at a northern Virginia amphitheater. I even got to stand ON the stage during Aerosmith’s soundcheck. Talk about a dream come true !! Steven Tyler walked over at one point (his rock and roll hair pulled up in a ‘scrunchie’) grabbed both my hands and was singing to me/ with me! I began to babble in baby talk I was so excited ! That’s the year I sent out a picture Christmas card to my rocker friends – not with my family pic inserted in all the picture holders – but instead, I inserted 100 copies of the picture of little ole me & Steven Tyler !! Merry Christmas to all from Lisa Kyle & Steven !! Ho Ho Ho !!

Mary Nyan:
Please tell us a KiSS story!

Lisa Kyle::
I have been sooooo lucky !! KISS is a band I’ve gotten to spend quite a bit of time with through the years…. How incredible is that?!? A few years ago – before they all reunited and put the makeup back on – KISS did an official UNPLUGGED Convention Tour. My dear buddies, Mike & Jimmy in the Original KISS Army-KISS tribute band – were asked to open up for Gene, Paul, Bruce & Eric on several of the dates. We went to the Atlanta show and had a BLAST !! Got to hand out with all the guys before, during and after the convention….We had so much fun cutting up that we were invited and journeyed on to the Nashville show and then even on to St. Louis,Missouri…. stopping only at a Wal*Mart along the way to buy clean underwear (remember we only packed and planned on going to Atlanta) I’ve got tons of unbelievable pictures…. memories to die for…. and while it wasn’t the most responsible thing I’ve ever done in my life… it was a once in a lifetime experience….

Mary Nyan:
Who would you most like to meet, or see in concert?

Lisa Kyle:
Please oh please find me a ‘way back’ time machine and take me to an ELVIS concert !!! And please let me MEET him, too !! Then..since we’ve got the time machine already…we can check out a Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris Fallen Angels show… maybe hit Woodstock ???

Mary Nyan:
What sort of fan-following do you have?

Lisa Kyle:
I have an amazingly supportive & encouraging network of family, friends and fans….many of whom have gone and continue to go way beyond the call of duty when it comes to doing nice, thoughtful & helpful things for me and my band and our pursuit of our craft ! Special shout out to Nic !

Mary Nyan:
Any horror stories associated with your measure of fame?

Lisa Kyle:
Unfortunately…people just assume that when you are a professional musician by trade that you partake of various and assorted drugs….this NOT being the case in regards to yours truly…. I have never been a drug user…. but avid fans &/or appreciators of our music have – on several occasions – unbeknownst to me – slipped illegal substances into my pocket…or gig bag…. and could have gotten me into alot of trouble !! Luckily once discovered – I have made quick work of disposing of these items…. I AM a Southern Comfort sipper when I am singing…okay…sometimes even SHOTS… and my people who regularly come to my shows know this…they often bring me shots up to the stage and I always used to drink ‘em (thanks, Janis Joplin) Then one night someone I didn’t know handed me a shot apparently laced with drugs (GHB?) and I ended up passing out outback during our break….my head bouncing off the concrete…Fortunately I was surrounded by close friends and bandmates who made sure no more harm came to me… and that I got home safe & sound (out cold for 12 hours) Thanks, T! No more do I accept shots on stage from people I don’t know…. (and some I DO know…)

Mary Nyan:
Are there purrticular managers, purrducers engineers, roadies, purrmoters, other mewsicians you tend to work with?

Lisa Kyle:
Julian and I always work together…. we are lucky enough to have lots of great players who rock with us from time to time…. Jimmy Buchanan… Gary Kearns… Mike Sivo… Cecil Mandrake… just to name a few…

Mary Nyan:
What equipment are you partial to?

Lisa Kyle:
I dearly LOVE my Shure Beta 87-A condenser microphone…. it makes me sound incredible !! And my RhythmTech tambourine is da’ bomb! I have a killer vintage Gibson Les Paul Jr. guitar and an Epiphone SG (like Angus Young’s in AC/DC) that I WISH I could play ! I’d go down to the crossroads right now and make a deal if’n I could !! I am and have always been a great lover of Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Stratocasters & Telecasters !! Marshall and Fender amps, please…. TURN it UP !!!

Mary Nyan:
Aside from being unplugged, how does an acoustic set contrast with electric?

Lisa Kyle:
I am totally enamored with the UNPLUGGED shows right now ! Years ago when people first approached me about playing acoustic I was like…”Uh….NO !!! Absolutely not !! I’m no folkie… I don’t sing ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’…it ain’t ever gonna happen…I’m a rocker !!” Then I was forced to do an unplugged show when my drummer (who shall remain nameless) combusted right before a gig !! (Yeah, just like Spinal Tap) I’ve been fortunate enough to play with the most amazing musicians who have since guided me into ‘unplugged-land’ and we now cover all kinds of new territory….When you are acoustic – everything is REAL….raw…human… you can hear the true nuances and emotions in the voices… in the guitars…. it is the BEST !!

Mary Nyan:
Where can folks see you in concert days? *

Lisa Kyle:
We are playing regularly back here locally at the RAVEN – alternating acoustic and electric shows! We can usually be found around Hillsborough at the Blue Bayou and in the Mebane area at Ground Zero… we are currently working with some agents and promoters and hoping to do a more extensive tour or two in the fall….Not to say that the Alamance/ Orange/ Guilford tour is lacking in ANY way ?!? :)

Mary Nyan:
What is the biggest venue you’ve purrformed at?

Lisa Kyle:
Probably the beautiful Waterside Park Pavilion on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia…I was playing with a R&B band ‘back in the day’ (NiteCruise) and we opened up legendary soul man, Lou Rawls for about 25,000 people on a gorgeous sunshiney Saturday afternoon !! It was fantastic to look out from that stage and see all those people !! But I gotta tell ya, Mary….I do my best to give 200% on stage ALWAYS…whether we have an audience of 10 or 10,000. I want to connect with my listeners… that’s why I do this….that’s what I live for…If I look out and know I have touched one person with my music….it’s all worth it….

Mary Nyan:
What goals do you aspire to for the future?

Lisa Kyle:
I wanta write and record some great original music…TOUR all over the world playing that music…making people happy with my music…. making MYSELF happy with my music would be a killer bonus, too !! Maybe move to Nashville…..

Mary Nyan:
Do you have any CDs for sale or mewsic for download?

Lisa Kyle:
We are currently working on a brand new CD – that will soon be available thru my website….

Mary Nyan:
Are there any mewsic videos or concert footage of you?

Lisa Kyle:
Oh yeah….Got tons of footage thru the years…I’ve even heard there’ve been some random sightings of really old footage on YouTube ??? I plan on getting some new clips online very very soon !!

Mary Nyan:
Do you have any other merchandise, or press materials?

Lisa Kyle:
Yes ma’am…. I’ve recently discovered a few t-shirts from the EAST of EDEN days…and some DRIVE*SHE*SAID merch !! I plan on making this stuff available online, too !!

Mary Nyan:
Do you have a web site, and how might folks contact you?

Lisa Kyle:
Right now we are building a BRAND NEW website**AS WE SPEAK EVEN** but until we have it up and running there is some good info on my old site (okay – so it hasn’t been updated in alittle while)
http://lisakyleonline.tripod.com I would suggest that folks EMAIL me at Lisakyleonline@yahoo.com and I will add them to my weekly email list!!

Mary Nyan:
Would you purrfur to work in a studio or live on stage? Small intimate clubs or big arenas?

Lisa Kyle:
The studio is always fun but this girl LIVES to be playing on STAGE for YOU !! Nothing like playing in a huge arena/venue but sometimes for me…… ‘less is more…’

Mary Nyan:
What are your other hobbies and activities?

Lisa Kyle:
I love to read….love to shop in thrift stores (I pride myself on hitting all the Good Will stores across the continental U.S.)Cooking relaxes me…Love to dance to old school jams with my man…right now, I’m ready to spoon….”You still awake in there, babe ??”

Mary Nyan:
Favorite foods?

Lisa Kyle:
I am a big fan of RED MEAT and my man is a GRILL*MASTER !! Nothing compares to the filet mignons and NY strips we cook a la hacienda ! My favorite restaurant in Maggiano’s Little Italy….a very special place….and I adore my Mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce !!! Seafood rocks, too !!

Mary Nyan:
What is your opinion of the state of the recording industry?

Lisa Kyle:
There are so many ways to record now…. at home… on your computer and all kinds of tricks…. TOO many… Modern technology can do it all almost SANS HUMANS…. Punch in your program and let it roll….. What’s wrong with this picture ?!?

Mary Nyan:
How is it different for girls than guys?

Lisa Kyle:
That’s a delicate subject, Mary and one that goes back through the ages… what’s good for the goose is NOT necessarily good for the gander, huh ?? Don’t even get me started…..

Mary Nyan:
From Elvis to Ozzy, metal to hip hop, every decade there have been those who would censor popular mewsic, claiming it is too sexy, Satanic, violent, or politically incorrect. Care to address such controversies or critics?

Lisa Kyle:
God Bless America !!!

Mary Nyan:
What advice would you offer people who aspire for mewsical career, be it recording or purrforming live?

Lisa Kyle:
Hold on to your dreams!! I know that sounds cheesy and cliche but hey… JUST DO IT !!! Get out there and do it…see what kind of feedback you get from people you trust and take it from there…. I know it’s so easy to get discouraged…. remember…. sometimes it truly doesn’t matter how good you are..it’s all about WHO you know…. or being in the right place at the right time !! But keep doing it… learning all you can about your craft…. growing and expanding…. when you think you can’t hang on anymore and wanta give up… DON’T!!! Your day will come!!

Mary Nyan:
What advice do you have to parents about allowing or encouraging their kids to purrsue any purrforming arts?

Lisa Kyle:
You will see and you will know if your child has ‘that something special’…. but don’t PUSH your kid…just be there…Extra specially talented kids have extra specially talented parents!!

Mary Nyan:
Finally, Is there any business like show business?

Lisa Kyle:
There’s NO business like show business, Mary !! I have really enjoyed talking to you !! Thanks for an unforgettable interview…..Meeeeeowwwwwwww, darling……..

Mary Nyan:
Nyan nyan! Arigatoo gozaimasu!

Lisa Kyle:
Muchas gracias, gata picante !!

(Lisa, Myayr & Mike head back to the Rose Room so that she can collect her gear and then enjoy a day at the island before everyone reconvenes for the luau party supper at the KITT INN, then Mike & the catgirls reconvene at the center’s Dahlia Deck overlooking the bay)

Mike:
Sigh… once again I cave in to their feline feminine wiles. Whew, what a day- this was the biggest Mew yet! I bet the girls are ready for supper and a cat nap-

(all four catgirls are cutely manic with their stringy mess of yo-yos)

Mike:
Um, uh, Girls… girls… I nee y’all to take a break from the toys for just a moment to reveal, in no purrtic- I mean- particular order-

The Mew’s Monthly 13 Lucky Kitty Web Comic Picks of the Litter!

(all four catgirls perk up in unison, still all a tangle):
Hai!

Elizabeth:
My picks are:
Bryan M. Richter’s LCD http://lcd.comicgenesis.com/
Dave Cheung & Jamal Joseph Jr‘s Chugworth Academy http://chugworth.com/
and Gina Biggs’ Red String http://redstring.strawberrycomics.com/

Jeannie:
I would like to recommend: Mark Mekkes’ Zortic http://www.zortic.com/
(Hi Sandy!) G.F. Jarrell III’s Wham! Comics http://whamcomics.com/
and Dawn Tabor’s Code Black http://codeblack.comicgenesis.com/

Yvonne:
My turn! I’ll nominate: Ping Teo’s The Jaded thejaded.co.uk
Kim Ogden’s Firewater http://firewater.comicgenesis.com/
and Claire Barry’s Kittybot http://www.kitty-bot.com/
Nya!

Mary Nyan:
This month I’ve chosen: the Yumble comics collective http://pompi.unfading-scar.net/
Animator Lily’s Magician’s Quest http://www.magiciansquest.luscent.net/indexbp.html
and Ruina’s Serenian Country http://www.holidayblue.com/

Mike:
Last but certainly not least, I’d like to mention Barb Jacobs’ Xylia http://www.xyliatales.com/

Elizabeth:
Since this is the ‘Giant Size Mew Thing’, should we double up on the picks of the litter?

Jeannie:

That would make it the 26 Lucky Kitty Web Comics Picks of the Litter.

Yvonne:
I think we should leave it at that- I’m hungry, nya!

Elizabeth:
I want… I want a crab cake sammich!

Jeannie:

That would hit the spot.


Mary Nyan:

We should wrap it up- we must purr-pare for the luau. I’m supposed to hula there tonight so I’ll need to change from this kimono into my grass skirt.

Mike:
Good points. I guess that means-

The Cat Lady Sings!

Elizabeth:
Thanks again to our guests Lisa Kyle, Captain Keela, Jeff Branch, Phil Lee, Three Quarter Ale, and especially Jamie Robertson for making our 1st Anniversary so special!

Jeannie:
If you have polite & sincere responses to our discussion- feel free to post them purrvided that your brief remarks are spam-free, not argumentative, and stay on-topic!

Yvonne:
Everyone remember to turn off your cell phone and not to talk, text message, or light it up during a movie in a theater, nya! (starts playing with the stringy yo-yo again)

Mary Nyan:
We hope to see The Forbidden Kingdom, Iron Man, Prince Caspian, and the new Indiana Jones movie, so next month, more of our mewsual reviews ‘n discussions!

Mike:
-and hopefully four well-behaved catgirls! Thanks for visiting!

(all four grinning playful catgirls in unison):
BAI BAI!

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One Response to “The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings for May, 2008”

  1. Boots Vest Says:

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