Wednesday, 26 September
Woke up early. 8am. Drove in to work. All the while I was at work, I
wondered what it was going to be like at the airport. My flight was at
5:45 that night; just to be sure I was having myself picked up at 1pm; and
delivered to the airport by 2. Almost 4 hours, should be enough. Shouldn't
I left work at noon, went home and finished packing. Evil picked me
up (yes, that's her name) and we drove to the airport without incident.
She dropped me at the curb- and here I was.
Immediate Post-September 11 Airport. There was no curbside baggage checkin; I walked
inside and got in line for the ticket counter. I had a pleasant
conversation with an older couple behind me; they were going on vacation
and to see some of his family in Rome.
Except for the slight tang of tension in the air, things seemed almost
normal. Oh, and the obvious Marshals watching every public area.
I had a small disagreement with the lady at the ticket counter as to
whether or not I'd be allowed to carry on my guitar; she was concerned
that Security wouldn't pass it for some reason. She left the counter, and
went to actually *talk* to the folks at the Security checkpoint.
They looked at her as if she were nuts.
She came back, shaking her head, let me take the guitar, and promised me
that I'd have to check it at the gate and pay an extra $100 for the bag...
Security was... fast. The guitar and my backpack went right through, and I
walked through the metal detector without a beep. The backpack had my
computer in it; I was frankly a bit suprised that I wasn't asked to power
The time? 3PM. And I'm in, and just waiting for the plane.
The airport was actually very busy; almost as busy as I've grown used to
seeing it this year. We boarded at
5:15, and took off without a hitch.
I sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the flight.
Thursday, 27 September
And I didn't sleep. Silly me.
The plane arrived at 7:30am local time (1:30am US); and I had no problems
getting through Customs. (It was interesting. I walked up to the Customs
officer. He looked at me suspiciously. He said 'Guten Morgen'. I smiled,
said 'Guten Morgen' back to him. He waved me through).
Right outside the Customs area, Katy was waiting. It was a welcome sight-
I was prepared to sit a bit and wait; but was a bit nervous since I don't
know the language, or anyone else there, or...
But she was there.
We drove to the house of Katy's SO. Paul Kwinn and Taunya Gren had
arrived Wednesday evening; Anke Teschke and Katy stayed overnight there.
Visited in the kitchen with the Puzzles (Paul and Taunya); and eventually
made our way to the great room for breakfast (the kitchen is very
I took a brief nap, then went into the great room to rehearse with Paul,
Taunya, and Katy. Alisa Garcia (the third member of Puzzlebox) couldn't
make it at the last minute, so Paul and Taunya were tapping anyone they
knew for help to fill out the two hours of concert slots that they had.
Franklin Gunkelmann had arrived just before we started rehearsal; we were
going to caravan to the convention. So, after practice, we loaded the cars
and started our driving adventure to Freusburg!
And promptly slowed to a crawl... because we were driving through the
heart of Frankfurt at the beginning of rush hour (4pm or so).
We reached the castle at about 7pm, seemingly driving up sheer cliffs to
In the States, we talk about castles. In England, they actually have a
few- of the civilised sort. We forget that these things are FORTRESSES. It's SUPPOSED to be difficult to get there!
We parked in the car park at the base of the castle, and walked up to get
our rooms. The operative terms here are "walked" and "up". Up takes a
whole new meaning here. Especially when you're dragging 150 pounds of
tshirts and CD's to the castle.
We were assigned temporary rooms for Thursday night; the rooms we would
use for the weekend were in use by a youth group that had been there all
By this time, we were getting pretty well hungry; but we had heard that
the first contingent of British were nearly there, so we decided to wait
for them before heading off to find food.
And while we were waiting for them, Paul discovered that his wallet was
missing. We had taken a wrong turn several kilometers up the road, and had
gotten out to get our bearings. Paul thought that his wallet might have
fallen out there. So, while we waited for the British, Franklin and Paul
went on Wallet Search (tm).
About an hour passed, and then Rika Körte, David Peek, Valerie
Housden, & Chris Croughton arrived. Paul and Franklin came back, empty
handed. More on the wallet tale later...
The Brits unloaded. Up. More up. wow.
Then the hungry horde descended upon the local village of Kirchen to find
Picture this: we're in the middle of nowhere in Germany. It's nearly 10pm.
What kind of food do you think we found?
Just as we were finishing dinner; Volker, Kirstin, and Nicholas arrived at
And behind them came Kathy Mar. Supreme shock ensued- along with extremely interesting mandible calisthenics by Katy. (What?!?
You're here? But.. but... but...!) We were very thoroughly
We drove back to the castle ("Hey, didn't we pass a castle back up the
road? Maybe they have a phone...") Volker drove the car up close to
the entrance, and we all helped schlep stuff up to the rooms (Volker
was carrying half the sound equipment, baby, babystuff, Kathy, and
Kirstin. It was a full car!! Chris Croughton had the other half of the
While unloading, we also decided who would go into which room. I don't
know how, but I ended up rooming with Anke, Katy, and Taunya. Lucky me!
We were all very silly and giggly until about 1am; and I finally dropped
off to sleep- about 35 hours after I got up on the other side of the
And, though I was asleep, it was here that my reputation as a replacement lighthouse foghorn was made....
Fri, 28 September
... "woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head"
Katy, Anke, & Taunya started their morning rituals at 7am. Each took 20
minutes. Breakfast was at 8, and I was still pretty out of it. So I stayed
in bed and slept more, sleep being more important than food at that point.
I ran to the store to pick up munchies with Katy & Taunya- German
supermarkets are very American in appearance. I had wanted to go
specifically to pick up scotch tape so that I could put the captions in
the WorlDream photo albums. And I was having so much fun looking at stuff
that I COMPLETELY forgot the tape.
Franklin called the police in the other village, and; wonder of wonders...
THEY HAD PAUL'S WALLET!!! So, while we were at the grocery store, Franklin
and Paul went to get it back. sigh
Got back late for lunch, so I went upstairs instead to help Katy open
the music room. There is an elevator in the castle, but it can only
be operated with a key. If you don't have the key, you can't even get into
the elevator to use it.
We took the elevator to the top floor (where the room is); and dropped the
groceries. I walked around the room opening windows, and slowly became
aware of Katy becoming involved in an ever-more urgent search for
The elevator key.
When we walked into the room, it was in Katy's hand. Now, it was nowhere.
I watched as Katy carefully turned out each pocket. Twice. She went
through all the grocery bags. We looked under the chairs and tables. I
went downstairs 5 floors to see if it was at the bottom of the elevator
(it wasn't). I went back up to the room. Katy turned out her pockets
again. I went through the grocery bags, completely emptying them onto the
While all this searching was going on, I jokingly suggested that the key
had rotated itself into a parallel dimension. It would pop back up
seemingly out of thin air the moment we stopped looking for it.
We gave up the search, and went down to the temporary Ops center. I
grabbed some leftover lunch, and Katy explained to Anke that the key had
disappeared. On my way down to lunch, I ran into Kathleen Sloan. And
almost fell down the stairs in surprise. SHE was a surprise, too! The sneak.
While I ate lunch, Katy went back upstairs to search- and shortly returned
with the key. It was in one of the grocery bags.
Now, I KNOW that it wasn't in any of the bags when I searched them. It
wasn't there when Katy searched them earlier.
I think the key heard me- and came back from its alternate dimension when
we left the room. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
And you know what? I think Paul's wallet went there, too. You know, just
pop off to a small little vacation dimension when life as an inanimate
object becomes just too much...
After lunch, we were able to move into our rooms for the weekend. Just as
I was finishing setting up in my room, I heard a SHRIEK in the hallway.
Ju met Kathy. And was just as suprised.
After that excitement, I was still pretty fagged from Wursday (that's
Wednesday running into Thursday); so I laid down for a nap. And slept
through the first half of supper. sigh
Eventually, Anke came and found me; and taught this ignorant American
where the food room was. I was able to get some food, and I ate with Rafe
Culpin, Kip McMurray, and Ju.
After supper, I changed the strings on my guitar, and went upstairs to see
the Opening Ceremonies. Which was done as a soft shoe dance by the entire
concom- Anke, Volker, Katy, Franklin, & Kirstin.
At FilkCONtinental, a 'concert' is an hour or more. A 'spot' is a 30
minute set. After the opening ceremonies, Kirstin, Ju and Katy, and Kathy
Mar each had 30 minute spots.
After Kathy's spot, the chairs were circled, and we started a poker chip
bardic using puzzle pieces in honor of Puzzlebox.
And the puzzle? Anke created it out of the WorlDream logo- Taunya cut out
the pieces. The *name badges* were even puzzle pieces of the WorlDream
logo- tying both the WorlDream and Puzzlebox together.
This is all the more appropriate to me- since Paul Kwinn's wife, Beckett
Gladney, created the logo.
I decided at the very beginning that I would use my two pieces to request
hearing others. I had a spot on Sunday; and it's not every day that you
get to hear Germans... (well, not if you're from the US...)
As it was, Rafe requested that I play Journey's Done, and Jerusalem got
requested as well. Taunya had never heard Jerusalem, and nearly fell off
her chair laughing...
Puzzlebox did a Lou and Peter Berryman piece- "Why Am I Painting the
Living Room"; and schtick abounded.
I asked Anke to play- I wanted to hear more of her- especially since she's
the InterFilk Guest to FilKONtario next year.
Things wound down to chaos, and eventually it was just me, Carroll,
Dreamer, CJ, and a couple others holding out until 5am.
Sat 29 September
I woke up at 10am. Gee. Go figger.
So much for the 8am breakfast...
I guess I should comment on food. Remember, we're in a castle. On the top
of a rather large hill. It's a loooong walk to the village. Breakfast is
at 8, lunch at noon, and dinner at 5. Period. If you miss the mealtime,
you don't have a lot left to eat.
Have I mentioned that I lost a lot of weight this weekend?
However, I was up in time for the Harmony workshop. This year, the
workshop was on a piece by Eva Wiest, 'Promise'. The arrangement
was done by Valerie Housden. And we were to learn the piece well enough to
record it on Sunday for the WorlDream CD.
It was kinda rough on this first run through, but us tenors sat around
after rehearsal and worked on our parts.
After lunch, I practiced with Paul, Taunya, Katy, Ju, and Rika to get
ready for Puzzlebox's first concert that evening.
The spots started again a bit later; with spots by MeToo and Anja. Then,
the Main Concert.
Performers in the Main Concert were:
TheaEvanda and Felicitas Bergermann
Aryana & Thesilee
Thesilee, Silva, and Sabine Kinder
Pug and Shaya
Alexa and Franklin
Highlights- Esteban singing a filk of a Bonnie Tyler piece. He asked me to
accompany him; and wasn't bothered by the fact that I'd never even played
that song before. We got the hang of it about halfway through.
Alexa and Franklin singing the Sand song. It's all in German, and ties
together every single SF/Fantasy film that has
sand in it. The song is longer than HorseTamer's Daughter. Trust me- I'm
not exagerrating. I think that they sang for nearly a half hour...
They hit on Dune, Stargate, Star Wars, and... Baywatch... But it WAS a
great singalong song!
After the main concert was the Fan Fund auction. This year, they decided
that the proceeds from the auction would go to the Checkpoint Charlie
Foundation this year, instead of to the Fan Fund. The Foundation is
supplying relief to children left without one or both parents from the WTC
The puzzle pieces used Friday night for the poker/puzzle chip bardic were
assembled into a frame and placed in the auction. I managed to get it; I'm
sending it to Beckett Gladney as a 'thank you' for all she's done for the
After the auction, Rika had her spot (right before dinner... ). She did
very well; I do enjoy listening to her.
I took what was supposed to be a short nap through dinner- and overslept.
Which meant that I managed to sleep through most of Kathleen Sloan's spot. arrgh. Kathleen has a wonderful, pure soprano voice; and the
wickedest sense of humor this side of the Atlantic. She finds some of the
craziest songs; and turns them immediately into memorable performance
experiences. Just ask her to discuss the key of RflatMinor the next time
she has a guitar...
Thesilee and Silva are a duet called Lord Landless. They had a spot, and
sang wonderful songs in German. I believe that they did one upbeat one
about the Plague in there somewhere- which probably makes them eligible
for Ose Bunny status.
Christine Hintermeyer had the next spot. You know, some people have said
that I am intense when I perform. This woman redefines performance
intensity; and the SOUND she gets out of a classical guitar has to be
heard to be believed!
After Christine, Eva Wiest had her spot. Eva composed one of the songs
that FilkCONtinental selected for the WorlDream project, 'Promise'. She has an operatic soprano voice, with incredible
power and range.
You know, just these last three spots (Lord Landless, Christine
Hintermeyer, and Eva Wiest) are worth the plane ticket to Germany. Rika,
Anke, Ju and Katy, Kirstin, and Franklin pay back the conreg. Ya know,
you're just gonna have to go...
After Eva's spot, Puzzlebox gave their first concert. I helped out and
sang on 'Lucky Man' and 'Urban Legends'- and then helped
out with their first encore, 'Volcano' (I think it's called). They
did a second encore as well, reprising 'Painting the Living Room' from Friday Night. Massive schtick with Kathleen and Franklin ensued- with
Franklin and I ending up miming Abbot and Costello with open paint cans.
After the PuzzleConcert; we circled the chairs in preperation for the 'Many Hearts, One Voice' rehearsal for WorlDream. Franklin
translated the song into German; so we rehearsed in both languages.
You know, there was no need to work through my scansion issues- Germans
sing scansion naturally the way I seem to write it. (Hmm. Mebbe I
should start writing in German...)
After the rehearsal, we started open circle. I managed to make it to bed
at 5am, again.
Sunday 30 September
I woke up at 10:45- and just made it to the last bit of
chorus rehearsal on 'Promises'. Katy told me later that I was
starting to make folks nervous, since the rehearsal ended at 11am, and my
spot started at 11:30...
Carroll Ray Johnson's spot was right after rehearsal. I'm sorry to say
that I missed most of it, due to having to run back down to my room to
change for my spot. However, what I heard was very enjoyable.
So. My spot. My first concert on German soil in 21 years. Walking up the
the stage, I still didn't know quite what I was going to do.
I figured that since I was in Germany, and in a castle, that I'd don my
Ren garb for my spot. So, I walked up to the front in my doublet and hose;
the suprised looks I got made it worth the change.
It ended up being an up and down set- the songs went upbeat and
ose/touching very quickly:
Renaissance Melody: This seems to be pretty much my standard
opening song whenever I'm in a new venue; it's upbeat, singable, and fast.
And I have a lot of fun playing it.
To Touch A Star: I wrote this for my younger son, Joshua, at
FilKONtario in 1995. It's still true...
I Am Filker: One of the things I like about this piece is
the looks of suprise I get from people when they're mentioned by name in
the song. And I change the names every time I sing it...
Dutchman: A new take on an old sea legend.
Silver Gilt: Last month I spent a couple days with Tim and Annie
Walker. Annie told me some of the most wonderful stories about their
relatinship; I put them in this song.
B Movies: This is another old standard; about a movie media fan's
way of life.
Merry Meet: I wrote this from things said at a friend's funeral;
and it's become a song that's very close to my heart.
After my spot, Franklin and Molly Gunkelmann had a spot. Katy helped
Franklin out on two of his last three songs. And the last three songs
were... awesome. I cried. A lot.
Next, Puzzlebox did their rock set. More help from me, Katy, Rika,
and Ju. I wish I had the words to describe how much fun these guys are
in concert!! I think if Alisa and Luis had been there, there would have
been no way that they would have been allowed to leave the country. Paul
and Taunya are a powerful combination- and the addition of Alisa brings
things to entirely new levels of wonderful. I really, really hope that the
entire band can make it back to Germany some time in the future so that
they get a taste of the full Puzzle impact.
Again and again I come back to the growing chain of family and community
that echoes from the oldest link (my recording, alone, in December 2000)
to now. This was such a good weekend, and except for the language
differences, Freusburg is just as much "home" as any filk con in an
English speaking country.
So, folks were milling around after Puzzlebox. I ran back to my
room and changed back into jeans and my WD tshirt. I got back to
the room, and sat down in front and watched the tech setup.
I was sitting, feeling at home, and I started playing MHOV to start
pulling people together for the recording. About half way through the
song, I looked up. The room could have been anywhere; but looking out the
window I saw the tree-lined hills, with a radio tower on top that could
only be in Germany. I was gripped by a very deep sense of vertigo- I'm
home, but not-home; but it IS home...
By this point, pretty much everyone in the room was singing, warming up.
And I felt love- palpable, warm, there,holding all of us.
I remember craving acceptance as a boy- it's why I started playing guitar.
I remember needing someone, anyone, to listen to me play. And
Now; ironically, I find that I'm uncomfortable with the heartfelt thank
you's and inclusion I get. I honestly never expected the feelings, the
depth of the love, the ... wholeness of it all. I never expected people to
thank me, and never expected to touch the way I've touched and been
Yes, it makes me uncomfortable- because I feel like I'm being thanked for
doing a "Great Working"; when I'm not really responsible for what's
happening in the room. All I do is encourage- the feelings come from
within each heart; connecting to each heart. I don't know how to react to
people thanking me for doing nothing more than encouraging all of us to feel the connection we already have. I know that we already have
that connection- it's what brings us to these conventions in the first
place, and keeps bringing us back.
So, don't thank just me. Thank the person standing next to you. Thank the
people whose eyes you connected with. Thank your friends, your found
family, your community. Hug the person next to you, whether you know them
or not. All I'm doing is holding up a mirror; and trying to show you how
wonderful you already are- and trying to do it in a way that everyone can
The WorlDream isn't a song. It isn't the CD project. It isn't even the
travel, all the cons, or the money that will go to our organizations.
The WorlDream is that flash of global connection that happens when we
raise our voices in song together. Our wonderful, cacophonous, human voices and souls combined for one moment with the world.
I am not important. The singing is. And the singing goes on- through
sadness and joy, laughter and tears. the Song will continue so long as
there is breath in even one single person's lungs.
We sang. And sang. And after we were done recording in both German and
English, the choir assembled and we recorded 'Promises'.
I had dinner w/ Kathy Mar, Silva, & a friend of Silva's (sadly, I never
got her name).
After supper, I ran upstairs and recorded Silver Gilt to take back to
England so that Tim and Annie can add tracks to it.
Then, the sunday night open filk. Anja, Puzzles, Kathleen, Ju, Katy, Anke,
Christine, Keris, David, Esteban, CJ, Alexa, Franklin, Kip,
Rafe, etc. etc... We had a marvelous time.
Somewhere in here, Paul borrowed my guitar. I should have been afraid...
Kathleen Sloan had asked him to play Many Hearts, One Voice so that she could sing Merav Hoffman's parody- Many Huns, One War.
So much for that 'Nothing sacred do we hold...' line...
When things started getting a little slow and tired, Taunya told a fairy
tale. Not just any fairy tale, NOOOO! A fairy tale of love, hate, cruelty,
and a heroic little dog that gave its life for its master. Taunya assigned
several people in the circle to play the various parts of the fairy tale-
Paul was the cruel old man, Rika was the lovely daughter, Christine the
heroic, and doomed, yappydog.
After this, I went off with the local massage therapist, Billy, and got a
reallllly good workover. She told me stories of growing up in East
Germany; and what it was like when the Wall came down. You know, stories
like these really make you happy to live in a free country. And she is
glad to live in one now.
After the massage, I staggered off to bed early- it was only 3am.
Monday 1 October Wow! I actually made it to breakfast! I sat with Keris, Rika, David, and
Katy. After food, we went back to the rooms to pack up to get on our way
We loaded the cars, and sang the Hockey Monkey song to ourselves as
we made our final walk down to the parking lot. Franklin, Paul, Taunya,
Ina, Ralf, Kirstin, Volker, Anke, Katy, Christine... we were very silly. And we couldn't quite bring ourselves to actually climb into the
cars and drive away.
We must have hung out in the parking lot for at least 45 minutes before we
finally started to drift into the autos. And still, schtick ruled.
Franklin, Paul, and Taunya got into Franklin's van; I pressed my face to
the rear window in the classic "kid at a candy store" fashion. Franklin (the sneak) turned on the rear wiper blade. I pretended to be
swiped off and run under the wheels.
The car turned off. The drivers side door opened. Franklin was laughing so
hard he couldn't drive. His feet stamped, his hands were holding in
My evil plan worked. We had another 10 minutes of their company. teehee!
We Hockey Monkeyed Christine out, then Ina and Ralf. Franklins car was
next; they were Hockey Monkeyed as well.
Then Anke, Katy, and I got into the car and drove off toward Hamburg.
Kirstin and Volker were busy with Nicholas; we didn't get Hockey Monkeyed.
However, this does maintain my perfect record....
Mom? Can I go back next year?