Tag Archives: ramble

Visability and Graduations

As several of you know I get to go sit on the stage and wear a silly hat for other peoples graduations, and these are graduations I really quite like for various reasons.  I was never much of a fan of my own graduations, because during the first one I was just all bleh for public appearances in general for reasons that made no sense to me at that time, during the second I knew I was trans and was just filled with dislike for inhabiting my body or my social role at that point, however when you’re on the stage its quite fun as you’re not the centre of attention so much its not about focusing on you, also I’m way more comfortable in myself than I used to be I think, at least in some ways.

Interestingly I quite like going to graduations because it helps remind me why I’m where I am, and why I do what I do.  A lot of the time working for the Uni its easy to lose sight of the awesome good work we do, we educate students in all kinds of things, we do kick ass research, we improve the state of human knowledge at least in some ways – however in the day to day grind of projects and support its easy to get lost from this and instead just throw up your hands at all the politics that floods the place.  So graduations are nice for in some ways fulfilling the promise of the establishment, a time we can come together across departments and do our act as formal academics (processing in is nice, because everyone does their best formal and proper thing, we present a professional front, also you never know who you’ll be lined up next to so a nice point for a chat with new people in the queue) and present a united front to celebrate the achievements of the students.

Also it’s a more personal thing, in that not only does it give an institutional/group celebration but I tend to mostly come and sit on the stage for students I know through various societies, so its also a personal thing of celebrating the achievements of friends and giving them a grand sending off as yup – you are now officially recognised as more awesome in some specific manner, its nice to sit on the stage and try not to grin too much to be improper while applauding them :)

The final point, which is kind of what spurred me on to post this (being as I’ve just come back from watching the Manchester Pride Parade at the weekend) is the visibility aspect of it.  Whenever I go to graduations I make sure to flag with at least a small rainbow pin, if not a trans one as well, and also while I tend to blend into crowds in direct or focused interactions I get read as trans pretty easily – and this is one of those cases where I don’t mind.  By being there, being in a group of academics and walking formally with them as a colleague and academic doctor and making myself obviously visible I aim to get some subtle exposure – to help say to people that hey it’s okay to be trans or queer, I’m here, looking respectable and not hiding.  And hopefully I’m helping out closeted students, and I’m helping normalise various minorities as a thing that exists for visiting friends and family who are in the hall, and those who watch the remote streams or for times I’m caught in pictures (amusingly I was grabbed for pics out of the line with some students this year, I’m not sure what I was doing beyond featuring as an academic to pose with, I have no idea how they were even reading me, and I don’t really mind).

While it’s true this could be said to be in some ways being over obvious with my sinister dark agenda (okay I’m maybe being snarky), or “rubbing their faces in it” I like to think I’m striking a balance between being too obvious (on a day that’s about the students), and being too hidden.  All I’m doing is wearing a small rainbow badge in my outfit and just existing and being there which is the part I think is important, physically being there and in front of people and being comfortable – and I can do this because the University is an accepting place, I know that 99% of the staff and students wouldn’t give me shit, so based on the work of others (standing on the shoulders of giants) I can help continue that work by being there, by normalising things, by being visible and wearing small subtle symbols to help make it okay for others to come out and be themselves.

Revelatory?

There’s a project afoot to record the stories of my University as a place a community, and one of the parts is filming people holding up single words to describe the place, I was talking to Lee online about this and saying:

How do I sum up the place I came with no real clue why I was here, that’s given me an education and a job, friends, a house, where I’ve gone from asexual to heterosexual to bisexual to homosexual to bisexual queer, from aromantic to poly, from experiencing self as male to experiencing self as female, transitioning, falling in love with people, failed relationships, taking up new hobbies, dropping old ones, walking about in the early hours, learning magic, becoming a kind of pagan, running talks, reading books, the fog and mist and rain straight from the sea and lakes and mountains in the distance :)

And his suggestion was just “Revelatory” which I think kind of fits.  It’s not so much the University itself – as in many ways upper management are kind of lizard people at times and feel disconnected, but its the community that it fosters on its campus and in town, the friendly people I’ve basically grown up with (I think I avoided doing a lot of growing up pre-Uni, or at least it feels that way now) and who have been there for me and let me be there for them in adventurous too numerous and surreal to list them all.

Sure I may not live here forever, but I’ve really rather enjoyed a lot of the time I have lived here, so thanks to everyone who’s done that with me.

Meta Call For Papers: How to make friends and horrify people

Okay so I threatened to write this post in the aftermath of … I think Haunted Hotel?  (Was it Nam?) but now I’m finally going to get around to it, or at least start it, so I’m writing this blog post in the hope of spurring some discussion for the structure of a Call For Papers (note for others, this is mostly getting discussed back and forth over on Facebook)

I had an idea to collect various articles from those of us who have been involved in reffing, propping, crewing, writing for and indeed playing LARP events designed to create horror, wonder, strangeness and otherness based out of the community in Lancaster.  Then wrap up said articles into a bigger document and do the whole printing on demand thing to get it out there as a useful collection of opinions for anyone who wants to think about making events like these happen.  However first off I wanted to discuss the meta aspect – how to structure the categories of articles at least a little bit – I figure if we’ve got some rough ideas for structure then that gives us areas to aim to fill with writing.

My initial structure looks something like this:

  1. Concepts (so coming up with ideas for concepts and hooks to hang events off, atmosphere, goal states: flavour and reactions you want to inspire and how to weave those into the base of the event, mixing in various bits of different bits of background, etc.etc.etc.)
  2. Logistics (Project Management – how to make things you know actually happen before its too late, how to structure reffing teams, deal with conflict, project management, time scales that kind of thing, how to coordinate communication, insurance, handling money, all that stuff you need in place before you can do anything thats sort of overarching for the whole thing)
  3. Locations (where to look, what sort of criteria, ideas on pricing, how to divide up spaces, uses of spaces, reusing spaces and associations, flow of people)
  4. Characters (how many, archetypes, writing timelines, sections out early, structure of info, communicating goals, mental history, aligning them with the event and predisposing them to react well to horror, background research, interrelations, double acts, teams, etc.etc.etc)
  5. Props (small, large, monsters, set pieces, players bringing props, written, recorded, sound tricks, weapons, how to add creepyness, etc.etc.etc.)
  6. Systems (types of system, what systems should fulfil for criteria, what inspires certain ideas behind systems, experimenting with systems, how to write up systems, how to give examples to players, what to do if systems go wrong)
  7. At the Event (set up, dividing space, crisis management, reffing on the day, inspiring desired reactions in players by ref interactions, positioning props, timing events to help create those experiences, crewing on the day, monster handling, emergency propping, what happens when characters die, players are ill, monsters don’t feel scary enough, players do something batshit that you don’t expect, building tension, things you need to know to scare the shit out of players, dread vs. terror, dealing with player conflict, delicious foods to make with nothing but a kettle)
  8. Post Event (debriefing players, debriefing crew, best ways to organise tear down of the set up, writing constructive feed back, receiving feed back, planning for next time and reuse of characters, elements, props)

So I guess I must have missed a few things, or maybe the structures breaking things up in the wrong places, any more suggestions on how to break things up and move them around?  Do I even need this many categories of idea?  Should I make it more general of Pre-event/Event/Post-Event?

Mawwage is wot bwings us togeffer

Okay so it was kind of weird tuning into the debating that occurred yesterday, over the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. It was one of those events with a mix of fine oratory and interesting points (on both sides of the debate) along with some truly touching moments, and a healthy dose of flat out bigotry from the opposition.

The weird thing was (a) that some of these arguments were being advanced by otherwise reasonable people and (b) that I actually gave a shit about the whole thing.

As someone whose had a long and healthy opposition to the current surroundings of marriage (cultural, legal, etc) I’d historically been non-plussed by the rush of the mainstream gay community towards it. It wasn’t something that really spoke to me as a person. It’s possibly because I’m young(er) and also I don’t neatly fit into monogamy (although I mostly get read as straight) that I just didn’t feel the vibe from marriage.

Anyway, so it was kind of weird to tune in, and actually connect with it — to feel that this was actually an important issue being debated. Weird stuff the brain :)

Soylent Green is exceptionally well made

Okay so the trick I find to getting people back into macro-blogging seems to be to keep posting and also commenting on other peoples stuff, to get involved in all kinds of random back and forth chit-chat. I sometimes enter this paralysis of blogging because I go “Well item X isn’t really big enough to write about, so I’ll just post a 2 liner on facebook” and “Item Y isn’t really big enough so I’ll retweet the link I saw it at and not really write about it”.

But that way lies madness! (and micro-blogging, which I like for daily chit-chat but I like to see it balanced with longer writings by people and general catchups).

Anyway, so I thought I’d actually write some useful stuff. Well not useful but longer than just “Oh for fucks sake [politician] why are you allowed to make laws when you say [fucking stupid thing]”.

Warning! Soylent Green is SPOILERS!

Other Things: Weird Fiction and Clark Ashton Smith

Anyway, in order to try and keep up the momentum of updating the good old LJ I thought I’d post about other things I’ve been getting up to, instead of just grousing about one thing in my life thats pissing me off lately.

So recently I’ve been doing prop making for Hill 936, which seems to be going okay (fingers crossed), I’ve also been reading an awful lot of really random stuff. Mostly I’ve been going through the two volumes of short stories – Out of Space and Time written by Clark Ashton Smith that gifted me with a while back, and it must be said I’m enjoying reading it for the first time in much the same way I enjoyed reading a lot of Lovecrafts work when I was younger.

I can see the stuff that other people have nicked from this, and I can see more of the back and forth between him and HPL, but also I’m just enjoying reading this weird fiction where I have no idea what’s coming next :) And that’s something to really appreciate. Quite often when I read HPL inspired work I can sort of guess where they’re going with it, because they want to stay within Lovecraft’s framework. However reading Smith is good because he’s much fresher to me and hence the stories still have that feeling where I’m reading them and just about any damn thing can happen

In particular volume 2 opens with The Last Hieroglyph, which (despite some rather overt racism) is a fantastic tale featuring all kinds of wierdness, reading like some kind of strange trip. It’s not a complicated tale, and some of the others beat it for style, I just quite like the ending, the sheer strangeness of it was really rather nice :)