Most days, this room, the 12th-floor Executive Suite of the Yorkdale Holiday Inn in Toronto, is a place of quiet luxury. Tasteful green wallcovering complements the sensible beige armchairs that sit in front of a wall's worth of leather-bound books waiting to not be read. But today, April Fool's Day, it's been transformed. Bowls of Cheez Puffs adorn every horizontal surface, and a cartoon poster of little green men guards the entrance. For the rest of the weekend, this is the Con Suite, the social heart of one of North America's biggest filk-music conventions.
Today, it's cool to boast about caffeine intake and to do a lot of things that don't cut the social mustard anywhere else. Showcasing your new song "Fifty Ways to Kill an Ensign", for example.
"The redshirts," Joel said, explaining his song, "always die. Always. It is something I find quite laughable." Joel has a Ph.D. in chemistry, and he never uses contractions.
"Star Trek in general is quite laughable." He continued. "Did you see the first episode of Voyager? They got the science so wrong that it was hilarious. 'There has been an environmental disaster here, Captain. All of the atmosphere's nucleogenic particles are gone, so it can never rain.' I mean, excuse me?"
After a couple of discussions like that, and a few songs about Interview With the Vampire or zero-gravity sex, it was easy to brush off this filk phenomenon as something really simple: a few musically inclined middle-aged friends united by a playful sense of humor and a certain laissez-faire approach to personal hygiene. But what, we find ourselves wondering, is behind it all? Why would intelligent adultsand as a rule, filkers are extremely intelligentwant to spend their spare time singing about spaceships?