Friday, July 21, 2017

Winchester Day 2, Part 2 or "What an incredible batch of people"

Look, it's a conference with Death and Feminism as its organizing principles, so I'm going to start with conference adjacent stuff first, because it's been a big day.

1. Dinner was delightful, I managed to sit at a table of mostly Americans who had done/are doing their advanced degrees in the UK. We all boisterously moaned about how utterly, impenetrably baffling the British higher education system is and how, when you get things wrong because no one ever told you what to do, they in turn are baffled because it's, "so obvious."

(I have quite a bit of residual anger about this...probably good to know about what for sorting through purposes.)

2. Did you know I'm Chatty? I'm So Chatty. Being So Chatty means that I had a lot of conversations that started with, "are you presenting?" (most people are) which then led to being asked the same in turn. Lots of people have no idea who I am, which is peachy, but what is astonishing is the people who DO know who I am. "Oh! You're For Whom The Bell Toils! I'm really looking forward to that! You have such a lovely website." (Golly!)

(It's just bells with labels on them! What if it's not very good or interesting and I've lugged 16.6kg/36.5lbs of metal halfway across the world for nothing????) (Breathing.)

3. There are some people who are obviously at a death conference- they're wearing beautifully knitted cardigans with skulls grinning from their backs, dresses covered in skeletons, top hats, petticoats, coffin earrings, etc. Then there's the rest of us, who run the gamut of aesthetics. I wore a black tank top and purple lipstick so I fit in just fine.

4. Very few things are as delightful as listening to people nerding out about very specific, technical topics and then discovering that they personally know each other's heroes and then watching stars burst out of their eyes.

5. I'm currently sitting in the lounge of the dormitory flat I'm staying in and the professor who co-organized this whole event is lovingly gossiping with pair of old, excellent friends. I'm *ABSOLUTELY* listening in and they're hilarious. Also, she just told me a harrowing story of being in Nepal with a bunch of students during the earthquake.

Winchester Day 2, Part 1 or "Casey gets slap happy"

I should apologise to the Winchester City of Commerce-- I think I somewhat misrepresented their offerings yesterday. I should have included mentions of their numerous wine shops, pottery shops, and the store that seemingly only sells very large wicker baskets. My bad.

You: Hi Casey! Have you been taking pictures in 'Jolly Ole England'? Haha.

Me: YES.

You: Oh! That certainly was emphatic! I bet there's a lot to take pictures of, huh? Lots of neat old buildings and picturesque scenery I imagine!


You: ...Um. Okay. Have you taken many pictures?

Me: ONE.



You: Casey, this is getting weird. You're being really weird. Can we please see the picture you took. Stop it.


You: Really just thrilled we had this conversation. Thank you.

A fun thing to do in Winchester is play that age old game, Medieval or Victorian Fan Art? 

REAL TALK: I love the Itchen.  I'm assuming the river is named because in the 1100s there was some virulent algae that prevented clothes from being comfortably washed in it. Currently it is clear, fast moving, and GLORIOUS. It's in a canal because apparently in 70AD they were like, "yo. This floods a lot. Let's make it a moat."

I have never so desperately wanted to dip my toes into a body of water before. But there are signs posted emphatically asking one not to do so in order to avoid a £50 fine. (Is it worth it to me to spend £50 to dip my toes in the Itchen? Stay tuned to find out!)

Here, I made you a video:

The Death & The Maiden Conference starts in 20 minutes. I'll probably have actual content soon.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Winchester Day 1, or "I think this town in inhabited entirely by teenagers"

The coach ride from London was very juddery, but fortunately only an hour and a half. I was dropped off in front of a festive building advertising a bake sale for charity, so *of course* I went in, since that is what one does. It was tricky to get into the sale due to the  three teenagers blocking the doorway. Once I  made it in, it was clear that the sale was being run very incompetently by those same teenagers. I bought a terrible piece of cake for 50p and allowed them to get back to what was clearly the main purpose of the day; flirting.

I walked through the town, dragging my bells behind me and admiring the sheer number of awkward teenage buskers, all singing earnestly with their eyes closed. The 20 minute or so walk to the university was charming- lots of stone and brick buildings housing bridal shops and charity shops that also have wedding dresses. Also chemists. Not much else other than those three types of shops. I ended up at one point behind a mother pushing a stroller and trying to guide her daughter who was practicing being blind and giggling maniacally. (Everyone needs a hobby.) See? Charming.

One of the things I had forgotten about the UK is that while there are abundant public maps informing you of where you are and where you might be headed- the street signs are next to impossible to find. So I got a little bit turned around, but eventually found a pathway next to a bunch of blackberry bushes. A teenager informed me that I was, indeed, headed in the correct direction.

After being pushed to the side of the path by a herd of probably around 50 teenagers (most of whom looking at their phones and not at all where they were going-- it felt like being in the wildebeest stampede in The Lion King), I found the local graveyard and happened again upon the mother and her daughter.

Alice is three, has several fidget spinners, likes Miraculous Ladybug (a joint Korean/French anime), calls her little brother "Ed", and is my new best friend. Her mother, Leanne, is a librarian at the University and made sure that I was in the correct place. So now I'm here! Fully 24 hours early to the conference and stashed neatly away in a tiny, claustrophobic dorm room that makes me feel grateful for the fact that I do not regularly reside in one of these any more.

I'm off now to go look at the actual location of the conference, try to sort out what time it actually is, and find some delicious food. Go team!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Back in London (briefly)

It's strange being back- everything is at once familiar and far more alien than I had anticipated.

I have not been run over by a taxi! Yesterday I almost was, but today I've been chanting, "look right, look right, look right" and that has been helping.

This afternoon as I sleepily headed back to Holly's flat for supper I crossed the courtyard to St. Paul's and the bells began ringing. It was perfect.

My internal monologue has shifted to a British accent again which is making writing this post somewhat irritating.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Life After London

I've been back in the US for about 7 months now. And I've been trying to stay busy.

The biggest news, I think, is that I've launched my game/experience design company and website. Since I'm not posting on this blog any longer, please do take a look at the website for new information (there's even a big of a blog over there too!)

Casework is launching its first big, American based game on June 9th and 10th at Figment, an interactive arts festival in NYC. The festival is a free, family friendly festival that has invited over 200 artists to create and bring something to the festival. Tapestry, the game I've designed, is prepared to have 2,000 players. (The festival is expecting over 30,000 people this year.)

The game is a community oriented, story collecting project. It involves arts and crafts, talking to new people, and grateful sharing.

When I was 16 I volunteered at Teen-Link, a crisis line for teenagers to call into and get a listening ear or helpful resources. We dealt with calls about sexual assault, homelessness, and familial abuse. You know, light and airy topics. It was tough and draining work, but also incredibly satisfying. I bring this up because when I was applying for the position and going through the extensive interview process I remember answering the question, "Why do you want to work here?" I thought for a moment and then said, "Well. I just really like hearing people's stories."

The stories that come out of Tapestry are nowhere near as heavy as some of the stories that I heard while volunteering at Teen Link. But some of them have a similar quality to them, "here- I don't know you, but you've just asked me for a story about love (or adventure or food or whatever), let me give you this honest little bit of myself."

The privilege and honor that I felt when entrusted with people's stories at Teen-Link is the same thing I feel when a profound story shows up in Tapestry. Sure, a lot of the stories are silly or throwaway, but some are heart breaking, and some make you light up, and some can only be responded to with a belly deep, "awwww"

So. That's Tapestry. And I'm raising money to fund the project (materials, transportation, snacks and water for my volunteer crew) through Kickstarter. If you'd like to be involved (and I'd love it if you were!) please follow the link and pledge whatever you feel willing and able to. Even $5 helps! Thank you so much.

If you're in the Seattle area this Sunday (the 3rd) please stop by and play! At 1:30, I'll be running Tapestry in the field next to Wedgwood Presbyterian Church at 35th and 80th NE

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Some Thoughts

1. Things I'm not entirely sure how to pack include: a bowler hat.

2. Percentage of my floor I can currently see: 2%

3. My paper goods weigh disproportionately more than everything else I own combined. (But only as long as we're not counting the tree trunk I like to call a 'djembe.' Because it is a tree trunk.)

4. Why isn't my room packing itself? And paper work, why hasn't that been completed while I sleep? WHY,

5. If a pair of shoes are *perfect* for a number of outfits, but are also falling apart- do I bring them to Seattle because I want to look right or throw them out and figure I can buy a new pair when I get to the US? This is actually a serious question. Help. (Note, this applies to three pairs of shoes, all slightly different.)

6. I have sustained several mysterious injuries in the last week. The cut on my finger I remember, it was from brussels sprouts, but the cut on my thigh? Seriously, how did that happen without my noticing?

7. My improv group is doing a fundraising show for Make-a-Wish on Sunday. And I can't be there what with a continent and an ocean making that a difficult commute. So my head has been recorded on an iPhone and then using Dropbox has been transferred to an iPad from which I will issue the scene challenges. How high tech are we? I'm just annoyed the holographic pad won't be working yet. Lame.

8. Too many people to say goodbye to. So instead I'm hanging out on the internet. Productive!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Schooner or Later

On Thursday evening there was the last Sandpit of the year. The Haberdashery (sometimes formerly known as 'Casework,' formerly known as 'Capricious,' sometimes referred to as 'La Louche'), our new game design collective, ran 'Schooner or Later' (formerly 'The East India Company Game') again and it went really well.

Next time we're hoping for fewer name changes.

Do you remember how the game works?
Let me remind you: It's a trading game based on the East India Company. Everyone has to give up their bags as collateral and in exchange are given the rental of a company boat (their hands, cupped together. We take their bags so that they don't have more carrying capacity.)

There are three countries involved in this particular trade triangle: India, China, and Great Britain.

Britain will buy most things at a very good price, but due to the trade monopoly agreement it has with the EIC, if you trade there you have to take British made goods with you- a whole heap of wool (cotton balls!). No one will buy the wool, but sometimes India and China can be persuaded to take some for a fee. Mostly it just fills up your boat.

India sells pepper (pepper corns!), and also grows opium. (balloons! hard to hide! easy to pop!)

China sells tea (tea bags) and will, angrily, accept opium. As a reward for getting the opium (un-popped balloon with your name on it) into China and helping to disrupt the economy and therefore drive down the price of tea, the EIC will give you a £200 bonus at the end of the game for each load of opium you smuggle into China.

Smugglers need to be wary of the roving coast guards, but above board traders have nothing to fear. All of this takes place in as wide and varied a playing area as we can manage to get. In this case? Most of the ground floor of the National Maritime Museum.

We had about 35 people playing and some of them made trade agreements with each other and convoys and official distraction people while others did the opium running. It was kind of great. One man in a tricornered hat (the whole evening was shipping themed) decided to collect the cotton wool balls and place them in his hat. I decided he was a floating "America" and secretly hoped he would start making crafts out of them to re-sell to England.

At one point, due to a mis-calculation by one of our port representatives, for £50 one of our players was sold *all the tea in China* 

Excellent. Also, that's a ridiculous price.

Figuring out what to use for currency in the game was a challenge since last time a limiting factor was that there simply wasn't enough money. Turns out that plastic coins were prohibitively expensive in the quantities we needed, so the cheapest option (we weren't allowed to use food, so spray painted beans were out of the question) was pennies.

Do you know how heavy 2,000 pennies are? REALLY, REALLY HEAVY.

Fortunately Josh took them home. They're no longer my problem.

(ps. Do you know how weirdly bank tellers will look at you when you ask for £20 in pennies?? £13 cleared out one bank's supply, so I actually had to go to two different banks to get it all. "Do you want some 2p coins?" Nope.)
(pps. Josh is threatening not to let me name games any more since the two the The Haberdashery put on at the NNM were named "Schooner or Later" and "Unlimited Port-ential" and that was 90% my fault.)