May 27th, 2008

Wind Chill?

Yesterday, the temperature headed up into the 80s with humidity high enough that I flipped on the air conditioning for the first time this year so the house would be vaguely comfortable.

Today, the announcers on the radio are talking about a wind chill reading of 38 degrees. Ack! And all I brought to work was my windbreaker which I discovered wasn't breaking nearly enough wind on my way into the office.

I walked to lunch anyway.

It's supposed to be summer.

More or less.

Bob Asprin

I suppose I was a bit less affected and a bit less shocked than many of my compatriots in the Dorsai Irregulars when I found out that Bob had passed away. For a variety of reasons, we simply didn't hang out that much together. Although I had many friends in the DI, I wasn't a member when he was really active. Add to that my general aversion to cigarette smoke and the fact that I'm not much of a drinker and you might find it amazing that we were ever in the same room together.

But filking will do that to you. I remember listening to Bob in the filkroom at my first Confusion (which must have been in 1978, if I recall correctly). Some years later, he was the Toastmaster the year that I was the Fan Guest of Honor at Confusion. That year, the concom had decided to put the guests on the dais and let them give brief speeches. Bob introduced each of us -- first me, as I told a couple of funny fannish stories about my friends Clif and Gretchen; then Kelly Freas (the Artist GoH) who told a funny story about how you should never let anyone give you a moonrock; and finally Somtow Sucharitkul (the Author GoH) who told one of the most incredibly funny stories about his family in Thailand and why he was much happier being here.

The cumulative effect was that the audience hurt themselves laughing. Bob told me later that people were walking up to him and congratulating him on the great speeches that he'd arranged the night before. Naturally, he said "Thanks!" :)

At NorthAmeriCon, the 1979 NASFiC, I was still pretty much of a neo-filker, but I'd accumulated enough repertoire to get Bob's attention. Bob was very good about getting me a chance to sing in the rather large circles that we had there, which I appreciated. It meant that he inadvertantly stepped on Margaret Middleton a couple of times, which wasn't so good, but he was neither the first, nor the last person to have that sort of thing happen through best intentions.

Another time, we were filking at a HoosierCon where (I think) Bob and Juanita were the guests. At some point during the filk, Bob announced that it was time to spend a half an hour singing Dorsai songs. Ok, that was fine, as it would surely make people happy, but none of Juanita, Moonwulf, or myself were up for singing Dorsai songs about then, so we wandered out into the hallway to chat.

The half hour and a bit more passed and the hallway crew conferred and confabbed and concluded that Juanita had the necessary gravitas and clout to declare that the Dorsai set was done. As one song was ending, Juanita started across the room to grab her guitar and start to sing something -- but it was too late. Bob had started another song.

I forget which one of us started it, but Wulf and I stood in the door and started chanting louder and louder, "Rumble, rumble, rumble. Mutiny, mutiny, mutiny."

Bob stopped singing and we moved on to something else. Thinking about it, it may have been the only time I ever saw him stop singing in the middle of a song.

It wasn't too long after that that Bob moved out of the Michigan area and I didn't see him very often subsequently. It was quite a surprise when Bill and Brenda got him to GAFilk a few years ago. He looked -- and sounded! -- much the same as he always had. Just a little bit smaller and a little bit tighter wound, sort of like Tithonus of Greek myth who had been granted immortality without the accompanying blessing of eternal youth. You thought he'd go on forever.

He didn't, of course.

But I think back and I can never recall him being anything other than decent to me, which certainly counts for something, at least with me.