The Magpie of Ressurection

So this blog has been pretty quiet for a while. Quite a bit has happened – basically, I’ve started at university and am now over half way through my first year. It was all very big and scary, and then it was big and exciting, and now it’s pretty much just big. But I’m really enjoying it – I’m learning a lot and I’ve met some of the most lovely people I could have hoped to meet.

I thought it was time I ressurected this blog for various reasons. One reason is that I need to get my art out there for people to see. So, every wednesday, I’m going to post some of the art I’ve been working on the week before. It might be something I’ve done for my course, or it might be some personal work, who knows.

This week’s offering is one of my first experiments with Adobe Illustrator. I’m still getting the hang of the program, but so far I’m really liking the way it works

Magpie on a branch.

EDIT: It doesn’t look as pixellated in illustrator, I swear. I’ve just spent half an hour trying to get it to export in a way that doesn’t kill the resolution, and the only way I can figure out is making it a PDF. (Or converting it to a jpeg or tiff in Photoshop, but jpegs compress and I can’t upload tiffs here.) So, if you want to see the original high-res version, click the link below.

Magpie

The Meat Dress

So basically, over the last couple of days, the world has imploded because Lady Gaga wore a dress made of meat to the MTV awards. Oh dear.

I should start by saying that, while I do not consider myself a fan of Lady Gaga, I have nothing against her either. I enjoy some of her songs and are not so fond of others. I do like an element of theatricality in music, and I admire her for having that.

I am not particularly fond of the dress. To be honest, the main thing that’s come to mind whenever it’s been mentioned is how uncomfortable that dress must be. I mean, God. Think of how it must smell. I wouldn’t want to have been standing next to her at that ceremony. And let’s not even start about how gross it would feel to wear it.

The more serious side of it is whether or not wearing the dress is immoral. I’ve seen arguements for both sides of this issue. Myself… well, I’d be lying if I said I was entirely comfortable with it, but I have to question why. Is it harmful to animals? Yes, of course it is, don’t be stupid, but no more so than wearing fur or leather. A creature (or multiple creatures) dies either way, and I doubt either of those materials would have caused quite so much comment. Is it wasteful? Again, yes it is. I doubt it will be worn again, and that meat would have been better eaten – but plenty of celebrities will by a beautiful designer dress and wear it to an award ceremony, only to never wear it again; isn’t that just as wasteful? I don’t particularly like the meat dress, but if I call it wrong or immoral, I have to apply the same judgement to these things. And I am the proud owner of a pair of leather boots.

Apparently (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/11295879 for details) there was a serious message beyond all this – it’s a protest against the way the US Military treats gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers. A worthy cause, though the connection between that and a dress made of meat seems tenuous to me.

To me, it seems like attention seeking. I suppose that comes with the territory – Lady Gaga is very much about the performance, the image, and as I have said above I can respect that. But since the message behind it – if that genuinely was her intention – is not readily apparent, this comes across as an attempt to shock for the sake of shocking people, and that is something that makes me roll my eyes a little bit.

Exhaustion boxes.

(A word of warning: the following post is fairly rambling, with run on sentances and everything, and probably quite self-indulgent and boring in its stream of consciousness-ness. That’s what you get when I am freaking out a little bit.)

I’m moving next week.

I start my course at Arts University College Bournemouth on the 27th, but since the lease for my room (I’m in the halls of residence) starts on the 20th I’ll be moving up sometime that week to give me a few days to get adjusted. I don’t know when exactly. Although I should figure it out soon since I’m supposed to tell the university when I’ll be arriving.

It’s pretty fucking scary at the moment. It didn’t feel real at all and until September started, and since then it’s been getting steadily more… well, real. Can’t think of any other words for it at the moment.

I mean, it’s exciting too. I’m looking forward to it big time. It’s just… whew.

It’s also exhausting. I started packing for real today – I’ve been sorting out what I need to take for a while; putting stuff in boxes that can go in the loft, etcetera, etcetera, but today I actually started packing things I’m actually going to take. And it is exhausting. Seriously; I spent today sorting out art materials I want to take from all the crappy art materials I’m leaving, and then I realised I had to buy something to pack them in, so I did, and THEN I put them in one of my new plastic storage boxes and that is tiring, for some reason, and all I have to show for it is one fucking box. (And another empty one, and two cardboard boxes full of books that have to go in the loft, and two plastic bags of clothes that are going to charity and one of stuff to throw away, and very little remaining floorspace.)

Going to continue taking this break, maybe have some tea, calm down, and then start on the DVDs and CDs. Of which I have far too many and will probably need to buy more boxes tomorrow to store them in.

Fairies everywhere! Also RIP Acorn.

Went to the Fairy Ball at the Acorn theatre on Friday. Everyone dressed up in fairy costumes, except for the people who were dressed as pirates for some reason. It was pretty fun, though the harp player was a bit too mellow for the first act methinks. Fire eaters were cool, though, and the last band (The Dolmen) were a lot of fun.

It was great seeing everyone in such mad costumes, but I don’t think some people realise how annoying giant wings are. Seriously, guys, you’re at a dance. There are other people in the room. It is crowded.

Stop hitting me with your wings.

The Acorn Theatre is closing now – I think the Fairy Ball was something like the second-last thing to happen there. It’s pretty sad; a lot of great things have happened there over the years, but now they just don’t have enough funds to stay open. I’d been visiting the place since I was about four years old, first because my dad worked there, then to go to clubs and things, then for the plays being performed there. I’ve even performed there myself a few times. I didn’t really expect to see it close, though I suppose the writing was on the wall given the way the economy has gotten…

Wow. That was much more of a downer than I meant to end this on. Um…

Fairies!

Dungeons and Dragons and Improvisation

So, I run a D&D game for a couple of friends of mine about once a week (well, a bit less frequently than that, but does that really matter?). 3.5e, because I have neither the money nor the inclination to shell out for a set of 4e books right now. And, well, it’s interesting, to say the least. Both friends are pretty new to the game, so I find myself going into teaching mode an awful lot, which I actually don’t mind in the slightest. 🙂 So if either of you are reading this post, don’t worry, I have nothing bad to say about you.

The fun thing about having new players is that they quite often do things that I really don’t expect. Nothing that I would call particularly bad decisions, just things that my previous group, who had been playing for a few years, would have thought to do because they had the idea that that wasn’t how you were “supposed” to play.

The thing is, there’s no “supposed” at all. But occasionally I forget that, and I start assuming everyone’s going to play the way they’re “supposed” to play – by which I mean the way I’m used to playing – and it takes new players, with no preconceptions, to shake me out of that. (So thanks massively, guys, I love you lots.) And sometimes they’ll come up with something that really stretches my abilities, as a dungeon master, to improvise.

Like last week. I want to set the scene for you. We’re sitting down, we’re a little way into what ended up being a several hours long session, and the characters (one human paladin and one half-orc druid) have just reached a network of caves infested with goblins. The half-orc sneaks ahead and finds three goblins getting drunk, as goblins do. They’re not really paying attention so she tries to sneak past them, and fails.

So she starts talking to them.

I’d kind of hoped for this, since it meant I got to play the part of a drunk goblin. I didn’t expect the conversation to go the way it did, though.

See, these goblins were allied with a tribe of orcs that had been terrorising the countryside thereabouts. The players had gone to the goblins’ caves in the hopes of finding out where the orcs might be hiding. What I had expected them to do was to fight (or sneak, or trick) their way through the goblins until they can kill the goblin chief and steal his map. What the player did was to claim to have been sent by the orcs as a messenger (remember, this player is playing a half-orc) and would the goblins please come to the orc camp right now, please, the chief wants to speak to your chief.

So, I ask the player to roll a bluff check.

Player rolls. Player succeeds.

The conversation went on, several more bluff checks were called for, and miraculously, the half-orc with no skill in Bluff and a Charisma penalty (translation for non-gamers: really really bad at this sort of thing) keeps succeeding, and the goblins believe every word.

So off they all go to the half-orc camp, having skipped the entire dungeon full of goblins I had planned on them fighting through, with the paladin sneaking along behind and her player panicking because she’s convinced that at any moment they’re going to get found out and all die.

(Actually, they both got a bit panicky as they reached the half-orc camp and realised how big it was. That was another thing I hadn’t expected: how attatched these two would be to their characters after three sessions. Especially as the half-orc’s player used to play Call of Cthulhu, a game in which I am given to understand your character dies all the time.)

It all turned out fine in the end, and it was actually the most fun I’ve had DMing in a long time – possibly because it stretched my improv skills so much. I had to think very quickly – how will the goblins react, what happens now that the players have done this, how long can I keep doing this terrible Michael Caine impression for. (I swear I did not intend to have the goblins sound that way, but it happened.) I should probably have expected something like this, as the half-orc’s player had already seemed quite keen on the roleplay aspect, and had, in fact, worked out his character’s backstory with me beforehand. (And that came into play later in the session, oh yes it did.) But I didn’t, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Both players seem to be really settling into the game now, panic about possible character deaths not-withstanding. And they’re planning on going back to the caves to clear out any remaining goblins. 🙂

Can has a blog.

Well, this is me. Entering the blogosphere. Hoping I can use this to keep in touch with people while I’m at Uni. Let’s not mention how badly my previous attempt at a livejournal failed, shall we?

So, hello. I’m Sesquedoodle, also known as Meems, also known as Christie Walsh. From time to time I’ll be posting here, rambling about whatever takes my fancy. Probably art, writing and geeky stuff. Hope to see you all around.