My name is Jubatus, and I think I've created a monster.
And it all started so innocuously, too...
Set the WABAC machine for a few months ago, when I, the non-singing
terror of the Blind Pig Glee Club, actually did hook up with said group. I
play instructor. What I do is ID vocal flaws and help the vocalist in question
to overcome them. In theory, this should be Wanderer's job, as he's the big
kahuna and has tons more vocal training and theory than I ever did, but that
wolf couldn't teach his grandmother how to suck eggs. Me? I'm a technical
writer -- transferring data between brains is what I do for a living.
Between us, we make a fairly effective team.
Speaking of 'effective teams', I really ought to introduce the
rest of the Glee Club. First off is Eltro Gannet, morphlocked buffalo-type
SCAB. No horns or hooves, maybe some hair/fur action going. He's two and a
half men wide; 10 men strong; and 20 men dignified. Basso profundo,
the kind that makes James Earl Jones sound like a baritone. Gannet's voice
is even deeper than mine used to be, and good enough that if I could still
sing, I would be plotting his painful demise. I'm almost certain that he does
have a sense of humor -- it's just hard to tell, since he specializes in Subtle
Constance is our token alto. SCABS made her a bumblebee. She's
got a fair degree of control over her form, anything from complete bee-hood
to mostly-norm and anywhere in between. Interestingly, she can also restrict
the form-shift to any individual part of her body, or group thereof. No, I
haven't asked her about the stinger. At her most human, all she's got is the
markings up and down her torso, plus oversized compound eyes; I never cared
for the 'big eye' thing in Japanese animation, and it doesn't look any better
in real life. Yes, the world does look pretty damned weird from her
point of view, and I sometimes wonder how much of her customary 'smiling airhead/ditz'
behavior is due to that.
Wolfshead is a baritone. As the name implies, he's got the head
of a wolf -- but that's it. Everything below his jawline is human-normal,
which means he's got a standard issue larynx feeding into the resonance chambers
of his lupine sinus cavities. As a result, his voice has a very distinctive
timbre. I like it; your mileage may vary. He's generally shy and retiring,
so why did he hook up with the generally raucous Lupine Boys? He's got to
have some kind of party animal in him, I just haven't seen it myself.
Then there's my dear friend Ringwolf; he's another Lupine Boy,
and we get along as smoothly as a cat's tongue, he and I. It's probably because
the first thing I ever said to him was that his enunciation sucked. Mind you,
he did need to work on it. He's a tenor, maybe that explains his reaction.
Externally speaking, all he's got to show for his SCABhood is a tail and overly
sharp fingernails. His day job, telemarketing, involves making dozens of cold
calls per hour, so it's kind of amusing that he gets so damned self-conscious
when it comes to performing in the flesh.
Our soprano is Sunya, and SCABS got creative with her. I suppose
you could call her a non-equine centaur: Below her waist, she's an oversized
jaguar. Gorgeous green eyes, fur so black it almost looks blue, and ditto
her hair, which grows into a sort of crewcut mane down her spine. She can
add claws and fur ad libitum, not sure about any other form-shifting.
Believe me, you haven't seen a prima donna attitude until you've seen one
with a feline accent...
The last of the Glee Club's original vocalists is Wanderer, founder
and leader of the Lupine Boys. You might expect that a shameless exhibitionist
of a performer like him would be a ham, but he's a wolf, and the closest he
can get to human isn't, particularly. At least he's bipedal with hands and
a voice. I'm told that he regresses to pure animal-hood when he's tired, sick,
or drunk. Haven't seen it, myself. Maybe someday. Baritone is his preferred
range, pre-1970 Broadway show tunes his preferred repertoire, flamboyantly
Elizabethan his preferred mode of affectation, optimistic his preferred attitude.
I've given up trying to understand how he gets away with it.
Finally there's me, Jubatus. I haven't sung for a while. Morphlocked
by preference; I'm 95% pure cheetah, and if I am able to pump that up to 100%,
I don't want to know. When I'm not playing instructor, which is good
chunk of the time, I play something else: Percussion. The first couple of
sessions I had my laptop running KeyBard with the Zildjian plug-in module,
but now I'm rataplanning away on a set of Tsukowa-Roland drumpads. Fully programmable
in every sense of the word. I'm not using more than a fraction of their potential,
which is sad in a way. On the other hand, I simply don't need any more
than that fraction, and you won't catch me artsy-fartsing up a tune
merely because my tools allow me to. Let's just say I've got room to grow
if I ever do need it.
So once I started helping Wanderer on the instructional end of
things, the vocal quality went up sharply -- and they weren't half bad to
begin with. Word gets around, and we end up with more gigs, some of them even
paid gigs. That's good, and what's better is when our first horse,
Dr. Bob Stein, joined us. Yeah, that Dr. Bob Stein. He is a world-renowned
scientist and all that, but he's also a damn fine baritone. I kid you
not; we're talking eight years with the Virginia Opera, okay? Who knew?
If you ask me, I think Wanderer only let the Doc sit in the first
time because he didn't want to say 'no' to one of the most respected SCABS
researchers on the face of the planet. Like I said, who knew?
But I digress. As you might expect, we started getting serious
media coverage once the Doc signed on. And media coverage begat even more
gigs (and box office), which begat even more media coverage, and so on, worlds
without end, amen. And somewhere in there, an otter by name of Peregrine Quinn
Dobhran joined up -- I'm not sure of the details, you'd have to ask Perry
or Wanderer -- to add his low baritone vocals to the mix. His keyboard chops
ain't bad either, but we don't do that. He's more than a little temperamental.
Not that I have any standing to criticize on that ground, of
In case you're not keeping track, that brings us up to a total
of nine musicians in this motley crew. And with a mob that size, the logistics
of transportation, if nothing else, can get sticky. Enter: an equine SCAB
named Greyflank, stage left, bearing with him invaluable experience with all
things backstage-related. He's as queer as a three-dollar bill, and not just
in sexual preference, but by Thespis, he knows his stuff. You ask me, a large
part of our success is directly attributable to Grey's work on publicity and
bookings, and his connections in the biz, and God knows what else. He's a
natural target for two -- count 'em, two -- different groups of bigots (homophobes
and SCABS-bashers), which even I can't bring myself to laugh about
unless I really work at it. I tried to set up a betting pool for the
day Grey first hits on Wanderer, but amazingly enough, no one else seemed
to be interested...
Logistics, by the way, is how come I'm the only non-vocalist
we've got. Every instrument you don't carry with you is an instrument you
don't have to tune, or keep track of, or insure, and that makes life much
Now, as I've already said, Wanderer is heavily into 20th Century
show tunes, and the group's repertoire reflected that. Not any more. Oh, we
still do numbers from Mame and My Fair Lady and
such, but now they're maybe 15% of our material, not the 90-odd% they were
before I came along. Can't say I'm the only one who suggests new tunes, just
the single most profligate suggestor. Wanderer's vetoed a fair number of my
ideas (for instance, I still think we could knock 'em dead with Who
Are the Brain Police), and he's been doubtful about others (Helter
Skelter is a tune he didn't even want to try until I played
him the Bobs' a capella arrangement), but on the whole, I really can't
complain. And neither can the wolf, because we're now getting a decidedly
larger audience than we used to. You just wouldn't believe how much wider
a segment of the concert-going public you can attract when you start performing
a wider variety of music.
If you've been paying attention, you'll notice that I haven't
mentioned our sound man. That's because we didn't really have one, not at
first. I tripled as engineer for a while, and I'm fast enough that I could
get away with commuting between stage and mixing board even during our performances.
But I wasn't comfortable with wearing three hats (the other two being instructor
and percussion, if you'll recall), so I was happy to delegate this job to
Greyflank when he came on board. Bad move; Grey's technical expertise (he's
a rigger, he's a gaffer, you name it) is not accompanied by any kind of musical
talent, and a sound man needs at least a little of both. So we made it a rotating
position for a few weeks, and it turned out that Ringwolf is actually the
best engineer we had, so we stuck him with the job. That did mean we had to
put the mixer up on stage with us, but it worked.
And that's how matters stood up until five Wednesday evenings
We came in for the usual Wednesday rehearsal, and discovered
a large package, one meter square by 1.5 long, on the piano bench. One of
the Lupine Boys said to Wanderer, "UPS delivered it around 3 pm. I think it's
"Well-a-day! 'Tis more than passing strange... Aye, the intended
recipient indeed be the Blind Pig Glee Club, in care of the Blind Pig Gin
"Return address?" I asked.
"The source whence this came would appear to be a Chicagoan gentleman,
one 'Mixman 3000' by name," Wanderer said, puzzled.
Bingo. So he did reply. "No problem," I said. "He's
a Chi-town DJ. Supposed to be an inanimorph SCAB, unless that's just a stage
persona. I spread the word we were looking for an engineer, and I guess he
responded to my message." I upshifted, moved in and used a claw to neatly
open the package, downshifted. I opened the lid. "Of course, he could've just
sent an e-mail. Let's see what -- huh?"
t' t' tum p' t' tah t' tm pm p' tah!
t' t' tum p' t' tah t' tm pm p' tah!
A percussion riff rumbled forth from inside the package, whose
contents drifted up into the air. It was vaguely rectangular, with mass quantities
of knobs and sliders and gauges on its largest flat surface -- a floating
sound board, in other words -- and animated neon-type visual effects surrounded
it. The riff kept rolling as the thing rotated around a vertical axis, giving
the entire bar a good look at it.
t' t' tum p' t' tah t' tm pm p' tah!
t' t' tum p' t' tah t' tm pm p' tah!
It settled down to a couple centimeters above the piano. The
shifting neon stabilized to create a blue/gold/red image of a human DJ working
the board. A bass guitar line started a beat or two before the lyrics:
"Well ya got a little problem -- on the
"An' it's gotta be fixed 'fore you're all
"Ya need a solution an' ya want it today?"
Here the instruments stopped dead.
"Just listen to the wisdom of -- M -- 3
-- K!" Now the accompaniment picked up again. Vocals came in a few
"I'm a mixer -- A fixer -- An electronic
"What I can do makes other soundmen run
off feelin' sick, sure!
"Ya sought it -- I got it -- There ain't
no more to say --" The accompaniment changed to a descending flurry
of drum hits.
"The answer you are seeking, is -- M -- 3
The neon image smiled, spread its hands, looked around expectantly.
There was a patter of applause; most of the bar's patrons wore surprised expressions.
"Let me guess: I went a little over the top, didn't I?"
"Ah... yes, I believe that would be a cogent and accurate summary,"
Wanderer said. "However, as a demonstration of your proficiency, I cannot
gainsay the efficacy of your performance."
One of the image's eyes twinkled. Literally, like a cheap special
effect. "So I'm in?"
"Mayhap. Perchance wouldst care to join us in rehearsal?"
"In other words," I said, "let's see how you do with material
that's not 1980s rap."
"No problem at all," the board replied. A drawer slid open, revealing
several small wireless microphones with velcro tabs to hold them onto fur.
"As you can see, I came prepared. Go ahead and plug in here, Jube."
An LED flashed near one of the sockets on the back panel.
So I hooked up my drum set, and the rest of the crew did the
usual routine with their mikes, and before too long we got into a Swingle
Singers arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach -- Wise and Foolish Virgins,
I think it was. Sounded pretty good. And then it was Don't Rain on My
Parade, and The Longest Time, and The
Thunder Rolls with Wanderer's rewritten lyrics, and Helter Skelter,
and Stars and Stripes Forever, and...
Could've gone on longer, but Wanderer killed it at 2 hours --
no sense letting the voices nuke their throats for a tryout. And when we stopped,
we got the most damn applause ever from this gang of drunks.
So here we are, possibly the most exotic musical group of all
time: Three wolves; two cats; one horse, otter, bee, and buffalo; a dead sound
engineer; and we even drafted a horse as roadie/gaffer/Lord High Everything
Else. We've got a number of downloadable cuts on the Net, we're working on
an album, we've got plenty of local gigs, and we just might go nationwide.
Oh, and you can stop calling us the Blind Pig Glee Club. That
name just doesn't fit any more. We're the Strikebreakers.
Only possible name for the group, really.
I mean, what else can you call a bunch of filthy, stinking, good-for-nothing SCABs?
Copyright 2001 by Quentin "Cubist" Long. If you want to post this anywhere else, please ask for permission first. Thank you.
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