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I went to the Societies Fair today, and joined AASoc, Compsoc, GEAS and EDG&R. Actually, I think that's more societies than I normally joined whilst at University. Someday, I will have to move on, but that day hasn't come yet.


Cannae wait.


Jul. 19th, 2006 11:47 pm
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The very best thing about my new workplace is... Free hot chocolate. Yum. :9


I'm onto the second volume of Fruits Basket now. What a bouncy cute story it is. So delightfully detached from reality. It felt a bit disjoint at the start, but I kind of got a feel for it midway through the first volume. People suddenly appearing through panel walls mid-page etc. Tohru's flashback opening volume 2 illustrates this style perfectly, with incongruous details being piled on seemingly out of nowhere. In short, lovely.

I've also bought volume 2 of Love Hina and volume 1 of Princess Ai for my lunch time reading. I really need more Ranma though.

Big Eyes, You Know The Drill

The BESM game continues to get curiouser and curiouser. After running into a young lady seemingly under duress by a group of samurai, we engaged in small scale street warfare to rescue her. Turns out she's a ninja (or a proto-ninja) who is also my great^23 grand daughter (remember, 400 years have passed). So she didn't need much rescuing. In fact, it was her who dealt the killing blow against their leader. Though [livejournal.com profile] kunshu revoking said leader's "breathing privileges" went a fair bit towards the victory too.

We're all having fun acting out our messed up characters. Kunshu as the opium addicted senjojin was a laugh. He took "easily distracted" to heart and spent most of the game staring into space or playing with the shafts of light. Andrew's character is now in denial that she ever was a living being and is now doing her best to be an emotionless programmed automaton dedicated to destroying all evil. And Iyo, Eric's character is as psychopathic as ever, but with four hundred years of putting up with her even more psychopathic alter-ego piled on top of this.

I'm not sure exactly how a dryad ought to behave, but I seem to be getting away with it so far.

So, much entertainment abound. Kunshu, as promised, brought cookies. All fifty-two of them were devoured in short shift. Stephen wants to continue the game beyond the summer, since he'd rather not rush things, and we seem to prefer to take the proceedings at a "leisurely" pace.
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Of all the films I could have watched on Tuesday night, I chose to watch The Football Factory. Yes, we all have moments of madness sometimes. The thing is, while I could happily dismiss it as a silly little film with delusions of grandeur, I think there is something to it. Not much mind you.

My impression is that Football Factory believes itself to be documenting an important part of modern English society. To that, I say, "bollocks." I don't even believe that football casuals are that significant to football culture. I mean, you'd get what, ten, twenty thousand spectators at a big match? Several dozen times that watching on television? Yet, if Football Factory is to believed, these firms consist of at most fifty people. Based on what I'd hear at work, it seems these people have a reputation that far outstrips their actions.

What Football Factory is actually giving us a window on, in a very misguided and distorted way, is the "living for the weekend" culture that pervades Britain as a whole. Although I think that Human Traffic and Shaun of the Dead do a far better job of documenting this way of life, and I disagree completely with most of the conclusions it draws.

Tommy, the protagonist, is in a situation of his own making. He didn't get there through disadvantage, nor is he particularly marginalized. He can certainly afford to clothe himself in designer gear and ply women with large quantities of tequila. It's to his credit that he accepts and embraces the lot in life that he has chosen for himself rather than complain about it. And that is where the film trips itself up.

You see, this isn't gritty urban realism or any of that nonsense. It's not a wake-up call at all. It's about a bunch of perpetual children, living in their own private fantasy world of violence, sex and drugs, blissfully detached from the world around them. Sound familiar?

It's a film about otaku. I kid you not! Replace anime or videogames or what have you with football violence, and there it is. A bit more self destructive than obsessively watching DVDs, but whatever turns you on. Er... Am I saying watch it? NO! Go and watch Otaku No Video or Genshiken instead.

Right, that's me done talking incoherent gibberish for the evening.


Other fun goings on?

Big Eyes Small Mouth did indeed go down hill. I had fun trying to explain to my parents, my future in-laws, and the Emperor why I am now a brown-skinned female with pointy ears. They all took it rather well. Then, during an audience, two of the players with female characters decided it would be a good idea to seduce the Emperor, which led to things going a bit more pear-shaped than they already were. Thankfully, the benevolent GM saw fit to change me back at midnight.

While all this was going on, we got the first hints of intrigue in the imperial court, with rumours of disappearing courtesans, murders, and the re-appearance of the Emperor's exiled cousin. We also suspect that the Minister of the Left is up to something a bit dodgy. All will be revealed (innuendo possibly intended) at the Cherry Blossom Viewing next week.
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I went sailing today, as part of a taster course at Port Edgar in South Queensferry. The days instructions covered setting up the dinghy, steering, tacking and sailing into the wind. I've been sailing before, with Compsoc, and before that, with the New Deal programme. Having a whole day's tuition, in a smaller group and with far more explanation of the theory helps a lot in understanding what is going on. I still haven't quite grokked how sailing into the wind actually works, but at least now I know how it's done.

The sailing was done in a Wayfarer, with two other students and an instructor. Sailing under the bridges is quite breathtaking at times. I also got to fulfill wone of my lifelong dreams of taking a close up look at Inchgarvie, when we got carried too far east by the tide. A rather gruff supervisor came along in a motor launch and towed us back, to our tutor's dismay.


I've been very busy these past two weeks.

A good deal of that time has, as you'd imagine, been spent looking for a job. And of course, I haven't found one yet, but I didn't really expect to either. My current plan is to spend my first week of unemployment searching for temporary work. Hopefully something along the lines of the team secretary job I had before starting with the bank, but I'll most likely have to take whatever comes along.

So, what else happened?

Ho-Il has left for South Korea now. I'm sorry to see him go, and I wish him luck with the rest of his studies. He'll be back in a year to finish his degree at Edinburgh. We've had a good deal of fun playing videogames and cooking for each other. I hope I can someday cook as well as he does. I doubt I'll ever be as good at Tekken 5, but playing against him has been inspirational.

I played my first proper evening of Big Eyes Small Mouth on Wednesday. Not only did Stephen turn me into a Dryad, but he dropped me straight into a love triangle! Quite a mindfuck. We've already had the obligatory bathhouse scene, so it looks like things can only go downhill from here.

I left my job on Friday, and my colleagues gave me an envelope stuffed full of cash as a parting gift. It actually surprised me to see some of the signatures on the card, since I can never really tell what kind of effect I have on people. I can't say that I will miss the job, but I will miss many of the people I worked beside. Just about everyone there was a character (in a good way).

After work, I went to a demonstration held by the PSC outside of the Edinburgh office of the European Commission, in protest against the EU's sanctions on Palestine. For a four pm start, we got an impressive attendance, in fact, more people than were at the demonstration outside of the Disney Store. Several passers-by even joined in the protest. A representative from the Commission met with the demo's organizer, and they discussed things in a very civilized and erudite manner, before agreeing to pass on the PSC's message to his superiors.
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So caught up in the joy of discovering a working Cygwin installation hidden deep within the depths of the Windows XP machines at work, that I kind of forgot that most people haven't a clue as to the significance of this find. "Unix? What, you mean like the people with no testicles?"


Kendo and Friday Night Politics

Anyway, since Anime Soc is done and dusted for this academic year, I can move my kendo class to a Tuesday, which means I once again have my Fridays to myself again. w00t. This Friday is the last Tokyoblu at the Venue. The reason being that the Venue is closing down. Since Tokyoblu was the first club night I went to, I feel that I owe it to them to help give the Venue a good send off.

As for the kendo, it's going as well as can be expected. I've missed about four weeks due to a combination of fear and laziness. Returning after the break went surprisingly smoothly. I found to my amusement that I could remember the names of the nine kihon-waza, but I couldn't for the life of me recall what any of them did. Never mind.

After a very rigorous warm up, the sensei took as through a variety of shinai exercises in slow motion. This afforded a good deal of opportunity to concentrate on footwork and posture. The slower pace also helped me in getting back into the swing of things.

Big Eyes Small Mouth

The first night of Stephen's BESM game happened today. The entire time was, as promised, spent on character generation. Quite an elabourate process. I now have an ingame persona that I'm happy with.

BESM is a roleplaying system designed to facilitate anime themed games. It places emphasis on roleplaying over combat (allegedly), and uses a much simpler system of attributes compared with D20. It pretty much boils down to Mind, Body and Soul. (Sounds a bit like kendo.) The game in question will begin in a heavily mythicized golden-age Japan, bordered on three sides by the beast folk, spirit folk and the dragon blooded.

In our party, there is conveniently one of each. Kunshu from AASoc is playing the spirit being. I haven't met the other two before, but they seem like fun blokes. All four wield elemental swords (think Cloud in FF7 for an idea of scale), fashioned by the human emperor as symbols of the truce binding the four races.

My character is a human samurai whose scarred face belies a dedication to spirituality and scholarship. Although loyal to his clan and emperor, a troubled past may well come back to haunt him as the game progresses.

I'm a little curious about what I've gotten myself into, as by accounts, past games with this lot have involved among other things spontaneous gender change, lesbian seduction and cute school girls going through goth phases (whatever that might entail). It certainly won't be boring anyway.
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I declare my first experiment in cooking Gaeng Ped to be a success. I did burn the rice a little bit, which is embarrassing, but it all turned out right in the end. More importantly, Ho-il liked it too, which makes me happy, since he's such a kick arse chef. The recipe I used in the end turned out to be an amalgam of the one on E2 and a sheet that the lady in the Thai supermarket gave me. Here's what I used in the end:

300g chicken breast, diced
2 tins coconut cream
3 tbsp red curry paste
5 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
6 kafir lime leaves, shredded
1 tbsp Thai basil leaves, crushed
1 small tin bamboo shoots
1 cup pineapple pieces
100g baby sweetcorn
5 baby aubergines, quartered

These were all bought from either Thai@Haymarket, or Lidle. Despite this, it added up to a fair bit. I wound up paying around £13 in the end, although some of that constituted inital outlay on ingredients that make several dishes. This made enough for two, with a little left over for my lunch today.

Using a large stew pot (no wok in my flat), I briefly fried the curry paste first, then seared the chicken. Into that, I poured one tin of coconut cream, saving the other for later. After that, I added most of the other ingredients, except the aubergines. When it had reduced down a little bit, I dropped in the aubergines and topped it up with the rest of the coconut milk, covering and leaving it to simmer until the aubergines had cooked. Lovely.

Ho-il did indeed bring Killzone (an FPS for the PS2), and we played a fair bit of deathmatch then took turns at trying to clear campaign missions. Killzone certainly is visually impressive, with a powerful aesthetic and a lot of detail. As an experience, it has a lot to offer, however, I think it lacks a lot in AI and in the design of a comprehensively believable environment. There is much shepherding, and that bizarre predicament where an elite soldier can't jump a 3 foot wall rears its head. In fact, he can't jump full stop, except where permitted by the level designers.


At GEAS yesterday, Colin's D&D game wasn't running, so I asked around for something else I could join in. It transpired that I could join a game called Midnight, that was just about to begin afresh. Midnight uses D&D rules, so I didn't have that much to relearn, and is set in a dark and opressive world where evil gods reign, the dead walk the earth, and literacy and combat training are outlawed.

Suitable to such a hopeless world, the GM threw us in at the deep end, as the party began manacled together, being herded north by a gang of orks to be worked to death in an iron foundry. Read more Tolkien-esque goings-on... )

So, quite a fun afternoon. I'm still a beginner, and I try, though I worry that I'm not contributing enough that is useful to the game. I'll just have to endeavour to improve that with time.

Colin did show up eventually, then proceeded to fall asleep at the table, much to everyone's amusement. Wild night, I guess.

Funny Dice

Mar. 19th, 2006 10:21 pm
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Two weeks ago, I went along to GEAS (the Edinburgh University roleplaying society), after [livejournal.com profile] spacelem's Shadowrun manual got me curious and he suggested I go along. I had fun, but I went in without a clear idea of hat I wanted to do. I joined an on-going D&D game with a character that was a little muddled. "Erm... Why does your fighter have a charisma of 12? That's just silly." Amusingly, (and possibly fittingly) I wound up getting hit by a confusion spell. On account of this, I almost killed another party member using my big fuck-off sword of killing and spent a good hour babbling incoherently whilst the other party members did their best to eliminate the foe and deal with two confused characters.

Today, I started out with a new character in the same game. The class I really wanted to play as, it was pointed out, was the swashbucker. And this is more or less true, as I'd had in mind Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean when I sat down with the DM to assemble a character the last time.

So kitted out as a wily urban pirate, I did my best to swash some buckles and play my part in the dungeon exploration in progress. There wasn't much opportunity for witty smart talking, seeing as how all the enemies we came across were freakish other world type things, but I think I pulled off the graceful swordplay aspect as well as could be expected for someone in their second time playing. And it was FUN. The afternoon in the dungeon went by very quickly, and I was a little saddened when I found it would be more than a month before the game could continue.

So now I know a little of what roleplaying is like. From one perspective anyway. And it's certainly an experience I would like to repeat. Next thing you know, I'll be carrying around a bag of D10s and D20s.


Happy Birthday to [livejournal.com profile] lucyjin. I hope you had a fine day.


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