Scott Francis

Wax eloquently, wistfully

On April 17th, 2011, Tom Music passed away.

Tom was a friend gained through repeated attendance of the Auburn Virtual-On Crewduring its heyday in the early 2000’s. A dynamite Raiden player and expert with prediction lasers, he was usually at least a yomi layerabove you. He had the knack of predicting where a situation was likely to be going, and making sure all available witticisms were extracted. And no matter the situation, it would be made witty: his archived personal blogis shades of exploration alternated with childlike fascination, backed by humor drier than Winston Churchill’s martinis.

That sense of humor and love of a good situation dovetailed into one of his websites, Obey the Decider. Tom was busy describing it at the last Auburn Virtual-On Crew tourney in 2009, as he had just come off of Seattle Startup Weekend 2 where he’d pitched the idea. While he was waiting for his turn to demolish us with Screw Lasers, he noted that the hidden goal was to ‘randomly’ suggest the same place to groups of users based on time, to get people together in a fun location with a common talking point. That was pure Tom–he was always having a great time and wanted to make sure other people were having just as much fun.

That tourney however, was the last time I physically saw him. His lymphoma was diagnosed three months later. However, he kept everyone up to date using social media and his dedicated health blog Lymphomartini After getting a smartphone, I followed his Twitter stream during his cut-short trip to England and his speedy recovery back home.

During his early remission in 2009, he managed to get to a public gaming center with the just-released XBLA version of VOOT. He had to use a generic gamertag with no microphone, but we knew who each of us were. I hope that I gave him at least a few good matches like in the old days.

All of these experiences culminated in Tom’s legendary Ignite Seattle talk, using his rich voice and copious sense of humor to make light of his experiences.

Less than a year after that talk, he isn’t with us anymore. But he never stopped fighting, never stopped encouraging others, and never lost his sense of humor.

As good friends of mine have said: I want to be Tom Music when I grow up.