So last night I was at the LURPS panel discussion for mature themes, and super appreciated the input from the lovely panel (seriously I have notes that may get typed up at some point and got some chewy ideas to ponder). Anyway one of the questions was on torture scenes, and various ideas came forward and I offered some thoughts and examples, but thinking about it I kind of wanted to write something to set my ideas out. Continue reading
Feels like winter is really arriving, and on today of all days it kind of makes sense for personal symbolic reasons, and I think it contributed to an ongoing resurgence in my reconnection to my … magical? Pagan? current, whatever it is. I ate at my desk while working on a problem which struck just as I was about to go for my normal lunch and socialising, which created a window of time afterwards with no people, no time for eating needed, and I was nudged to go for a walk.
It was one of those odd little nudges and prompts and “maybe this?” sort of things that you get used too as an occultist I think, the sorts of sense for going and doing a thing and seeing what happens and what connections arise. As it was I went briefly up to past the chap centre to a patch of woods upon a hill, and I stood upon the grass and saw autumn leaves falling almost like snow, in gently drifting patterns, and I looked out across town at all the green and living life, and felt the clouds and sky overhead and earth below.
On the way back to the office the clouds gathered overhead, dark and heavy, and the temperature dropped, and it really felt like it was going to snow. In fact I think its just really icey cold rain coming down outside the building now. Although the sun has come through it and created a double rainbow between me and Clougha Pike, which was glorious to see, although thats faded and we’re back to blue sky patches on one side of the building and clouds concealing the hills on the other.
But yes, interesting what a change of timing to food and amount of people will do for the day and ones mood.
So I was rambling recently to Jazz about politics and was talking about my politics (lefty socialist with anarchist tendencies) and then I sort of drifted sideways into talking about organising LARPs and actually they kind of tick my boxes in politics.
No really let me explain. I totally love running LARPs because it involves organising into a group voluntarily, you maybe have a hierarchy within the group but its volunteered and agreed. You delegate jobs out to people that they agree too, you can leave the group at any time that your sense of honour dictates you can (or should).
And you come together to create a work of art, an event, a thing that influences and gives people feelings, then you shake hands, part ways – perhaps to work together later, but perhaps not.
Okay so a short one today because it’s late. I saw Durham’s fireworks from up close this year. Last year I saw them from a Bridge and that was pretty groovy to be honest, I came out of a set of dark woods and across and old stone bridge where we stood and looked up at the tail end of the display.
This year I got to watch them up closer with more people, and it was pretty cool, we were stood in a crowd at Grey’s college? And there was a nearby field with a hedge, and beyond that was an army of apparently mostly students who were running the show which is pretty cool. The display lacked some of the really nice bits I like about Lancaster (notably really big booms that shake my rib cage because those are super super lovely) but had some nice combinations of semi-distracting midheight stuff combined with “ooh we snuck one that goes really high and goes boom” in it.
Also their musical tastes were … interesting. While most fireworks displays lean on classical they had a mix of songs from the 70s right the way through to the modern day in I think chronological order, including snippets of Jackson Five, Right Said Fred, Cee Lo Green and a bunch of other stuff, which actually worked way better than I was expecting, it sort of touched on lots of good bits of songs and kept flowing through as the fireworks went up :)
Okay, so I wrote a brief summary and waffle about the oneshot I was running, but I thought I’d write more about atmosphere. I was going for a very specific atmosphere in that game and I think I nailed it with the aid of a few cheap tricks. Continue reading
As many of you are aware I follow the awesomely fun Every Day Carry (EDC) blog, which gives me ideas for not sucking, and also shows me pretty toys (some pretty because they are function, some just pretty, and functional as a side effect), and as many of you can attest from seeing whats in my pockets or my big black bag of useful things I tend to carry at least a small supply of things to be handy in day to day situations.
However I was involved in helping run Aeon Horror’s excellent NFQ/Incident Number ### event this weekend, a game set at an Antarctic research/containment/quarantine facility for a mix of non-human entities and sort of magical physics defying objects – and that morning I threw a bunch of stuff into my bag, and then later a subset of that into my pockets and it got me thinking about what I normally carry into games when I’m crewing or reffing.
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.
Okay, so this morning I was wittering at Jonno about the joy of strange new music I’ve found, and low and behold he hadn’t really heard of any of it. Now I admit I’ve also gotten introduced to all kinds of odd new folky things (mostly Joni Mitchell) from Lee lately which has been all good but kind of washed over me. However via chatting with random people and getting linked to stuff via youtube mainly I’ve found a few more bands that have oddly been eating up my listening time. So yeah this is the mega music dump post :) Hopefully I’ll do shorter ones in the future. To be honest I think the best stuff is at the start and the end of this … or at least thats my opinion right now? Not sure, you may just want to try it all or skip about :)
First off there’s the ever epic C.N. Lester (who’s blog is also pretty epic) who recently made an album called Aether, which is sort of haunting, floaty and ethereal piano driven stuff, well worth a listen if you like that kind of thing. The titular track Aether is available on youtube and really the rest of the album is close in style, although personally I find the track “Codine Blues” is probably the best tune on it.
Contrasting with that I’ve also been listening occasionally to Die Antwoord who are … oddly compelling, musically they’re a South African rap-rave band from Cape Town, probably the best things off there are I Fink U Freeky which has a chirpy almost 90s sound to it and an epicly surreal video, although the album does dip occasionally into iffy kinda misogynistic stuff and at least one of their videos has gotten slammed for blackface.
On a more electricy selection try Avicii – who’s a lot of fun to be honest and does some really funky stuff, for examples see: Silhouettes (epic trans content), Addicted To You (female bank robbers ahoy!) and Wake Me Up (just kinda perky you know).
Back to more smooth stuff (warning – potential hipster warning) I can also recommend the epic Caravan Palace for being awesomely French electro-swing, which is just all kinds of groovy and bouncy without delving into being bleepy electric stuff mainly. Particularly I can recommend Jolie Coquine, We Can Dance (both from the first album “Caravan Palace”) and Rock It For Me (for the singers suit if nothing else), Dramaphone from the second “Panic”. Also this entire gig IM Karlstor Bahnhof Heidelberg. In related news I’ve also had Caro Emerald recommend, which is apparently Dutch jazz, try Liquid Lunch.
From a more rocky standpoint I’d suggest trying Against Me‘s excellent album Transgender Dysphoria Blues, I think written to brain dump everything after their lead singer transitioned recently. I’d probably recommend Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues and Paralytic States for being the two tracks to best cover the source material, in general however the acoustic tune Two Coffins a tale of romance until death is actually the best thing on the whole album.
Lastly if you want some more acousticy Icelandic kind of pop stuff try Of Monsters And Men who’s album “My Head Is An Animal” is well recommend for pretty much every track on it, but in particular try Dirty Paws (multi-layered weird narrative), Your Bones (strange tale of … population migration, boats, weird I have no idea but its beautiful rolling noise) and also Little Talks (couples, mental illness, boat/house based metaphor) – seriously this whole album is just pure bottled amazing.
So yeah I think that’s about everything I’ve been listening too lately thats been unusual stuff, and if anyone likes any of it in particular let me know I’ll be impressed :)
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.