Blurry leaves on a twig in front of an even blurrier background.

Super camera telephoto lens is out of focus
Even though the tripod’s set, the blur is really bogus
If you use the automated setting hocus-pocus
Still the telephoto lens is slightly out of focus!

(The background is supposed to be blurry, but I had a lot of trouble focusing on the foreground with this lens. I guess it’s just going to take practice.)

On the subject of filk, and trying to define it, there’s a whole subset of songs by professional musicians that just rides the edge. (Half of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s repertoire, for instance.) Twice in the last week I’ve heard Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” which is apparently about Aragorn and Arwen from Lord of the Rings. It even makes references to Mordor and Gollum in the lyrics.

I’m not sure I’d ever heard it before, but Train covered it at the concert we went to last Friday (we went for the Wallflowers, who played after the intermission), and I just heard it on the radio this morning.

Talk about timing.

Musician Tom Smith (author of the Talk Like a Pirate Day theme song and Girl Genius’ Transylvania Polygnostic University Fight Song, and a.k.a. filkertom on LiveJournal) is in the hospital after a nasty injury, facing expensive surgery and months of hospital bills…without insurance. And of course he can’t work while he’s in the hospital.

A bunch of other musicians in the filk community have put together a benefit album, “Mr. Smith Goes to the Hospital,” and are providing it as a download for people who donate to help him cover the bills.

What is filk music? There’s no solid consensus, but I think the simplest answer is: music about other media, by its fans. Songs about Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings, for instance. Sometimes with original music, often setting new lyrics to other people’s songs (“piggyback filk”). Most filkers just do it as a hobby (I’ve written a few filksongs myself, mostly back in high school and college), but some manage to eke out a living — or supplement one — by performing and selling recordings.

We’ve picked up a couple of his albums since we heard “Five Years” — a Babylon 5 filk to the tune of Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” — at a Loscon a few years ago (back when we still went to Loscon).

(News found via Girl Genius.)

Dostoyevsky Comics CoverWhat happens when you put 1940s Batman comics and Crime and Punishment in a blender? No, not shredded paper, but Dostoyevsky Comics starring Raskol. Hilarious parody of golden-age comic book storytelling and classic Russian literature. Though some of the commenters seem to feel it was a personal insult against Fyodor Dostoevsky and Russian culture in general.
(via The Beat)

This next one doesn’t really qualify as a classic, but here’s 88 Lines About 44 Fangirls, a filk based on “88 Lines About 44 Women.” (via Comics Worth Reading)

And moving forward in time once more, we have an answer to the question I’m sure you were all wondering about: What If Gmail Had Been Designed by Microsoft? It shows a step-by-step transformation, with a steady increase in clutter and a steady decrease in usability… sort of in the spirit of the If Microsoft packaged the iPod video. (via ***Dave)