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Bill Roper's Journal
Bob Asprin 
27th-May-2008 04:35 pm
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.
27th-May-2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
I think my favorite story about Bob was actually Judy Voros' story--Bob had arrived at a con without a guitar. She was sitting next to him in the filk circle, and loaned him her guitar--for one song--then took it right back. She gave it back to him, periodically, for one song, when she thought it was his turn to sing again. She said he seemed confused by her behavior...

She told the story much better than I can, but of course, she's no longer around to tell it.
27th-May-2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
Most of the Bob / Yang stories I heard were back in 1980s when I traveled a good deal more in filk and Horde circles; I sat back and listened, but I rarely had the chance to do more than spot him at a distance. I read his Myth books (the earlier ones) and thought they were a hoot, but I'm terrible death on anything the Smells Of Formula, so I gave up on them a long while back.

The image I always got was one of legend; people adored him, or found him a PITA, but you rarely heard neutral comments. Lots of stories, not unlike Harlan Ellison in many ways as I think about it. (I'm one of those people who have always seen the really good and the really bad in Harlan, going all the way back to 1970.)

I think that the main thing here is that Bob will be *remembered* by at least this generation of fen for quite a while.
28th-May-2008 12:51 am (UTC)
I've read a bunch of his stuff, and maybe met him (photos look familiar), but your post finally made me look at his wikipedia article which, well it sucks. These postings would make good fodder to flesh it out.
28th-May-2008 06:41 am (UTC)
Yea, I remember the Con with Somtow. The speeches were good, but I didn't give Bob the credit.

I have to say I spent a good deal of Friday in a state of shock. Bob was one of the last people I ever thought of as getting old, never mind dying. I suppose I could get all introspective and muse on how we are reaching the age when we leave more and more ghosts behind us, until the day we join them. I'm not going to however, I'll start singing old Irish songs and that is never good.

Bob was the only filker that could knock my old Beast of a 12 string out of tune. Sad to say that guitar predeceased him by a good many years.

I remember the Thieves' World debut, and the fun we had with that. Countless filks. The First Myth books and the comments he wrote when he signed one.

Flipping a coin with Chris to sing the third verse of the Three Kings, and when I lost, raising my glass with him, and neatly flipping the contests into his. Bob about busted a gut and was in the middle of the first verse.

I don't remember Bob being anything but decent either. While I've missed him for a good many years, there was always the chance that you would turn a corner and there he would be.

That chance is gone now.

I have an old bottle of Tully in the closet. I do mean old and unopened. I think I know what it's getting used for now. A toast to Bob at the next Confusion.
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