Stan! (yes, his name comes with the exclamation point) celebrated his 39th birthday with a dinner at Jimmy Mac's Roadhouse in Renton followed by Karaoke at Seattle's Best Karaoke downtown.
First off, the dinner. Everyone at the table had either worked for, or was married to someone who worked for WotC. Now the group included representatives (and owners) of a small host of gaming companies: Green Ronin, Malhavoc Press, The Game Mechanics, Sabretooth Games, WizKids, as well as one of the board members for GAMA. How our little group has grown up. Jimmy Mac's is one of those steak and chicken joints where you throw peanut shells on the floor and the staff serenades the birthday boy. Naturally, we gossiped about the industry.
Then Karaoke. Stan! who has lived in Japan, pronounces it Kah-ROAK-eh as opposed to CARE-ee-OAK-ee. SBK is in a chunk of as-yet-unskyscrapered chunk of land between downtown and I-5, near the Seattle Center. Glass storefront, but inside it looks like a cross between a black market medical clinic and an adult movie joint - wide, white halls with a lot of doors on either side and the slight smell of disinfectant and stale cigs.
The doors lead to small rooms with chairs, sofas, a sound system, and a couple TV screens. You select the songs you want from a book, type in the code number, it goes back to the mainframe, pulls the song and video, and sends it back. Its Mitch-Miller-Follow-the-bouncing-ball (for those who remember it), with different colors used for duets.
There were about a dozen of us in the room, with two mikes. Our song selections was definitely rooted in the seventies and eighties. Billie Joel, Elton John, U2, Some Cole Porter, some Beatles. I did “Back in the USSR", complete with Beach-Boys-stylin’ and Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House”, in addition to a teamup with Kate on the B-52’s “Love Shack”. Kate for her part warbled some Tracy Chapman and Melissa Etheridge. Out of respect of my fellow singers, I shall reveal no more.
Now, I tend to be a tenor with a limited range, and Kate has described her own singing as “Eleanor Roosevelt takes a song and makes it her own”, but that’s not the point of Karaoke. Its about gathering with friends and letting loose a little. And everyone sounds a little bit better with the reverb turned up.
In any event, my voice is a little raw this morning, and I have the Northwest Bookfest this afternoon. I’m sitting on a panel with Stan! and Dave Gross on shared worlds, and we’ll see how that goes.