South Park Self

the interconnectedness of everything

It's bucketing down outside, and in the interstices between lectures the foyer of my building is filled with damp-puppy students staring dolefully out into the downpour amid the smell of wet hair. We are clearly in autumn, a season of pleasing damp and benevolent chill, and I have broken out the first boots of the season. I am happy. I am, however, also faintly worried to consider the inexorable drift of my language vis à vis students towards dehumanising diminutives - when they're not gazelles, they're puppies. The latter is perhaps a more healthy characterisation along the maternal/cute axis than than the former, which has a lurking hint of the predatory. I do, of course, owe the "gazelles" designation to starmadeshadow, who views the quivering herds from the vantage point of her own leopard-like stalk. She is planning on returning her big-cat self to Cape Town more permanently in the near future, causing much callooing and, for that matter, callaying in the ranks.

I have spent the morning immersed in the inevitable realities of my working life, viz. checking student transcripts. This has vouchsafed to me several insights, most notably (a) that my advisors, train I them never so carefully, are bloody useless at checking course pre-requisites despite repeated reminders and pointed inscriptions on lists of "common advisor mistakes". Insight (b) is, however, more interesting and rather less depressing. Honestly, the skills and experience on which I draw most frequently in this job are those of my frivolous role-playing proclivities. I spend my days wrangling student character sheets, the lists of numbers which quantify experience and achievement, each individual mapped carefully within the constraints of the system. I am alert to rule-breaking, to player dissatisfaction and lack of success, to the judicious balance between challenge and reward, test and fulfilment. I also rely heavily on the experience gained from DMing players like rumint, whose control of the system and its potential exploits is absolute and terrifying. It's all one in the eye, really, to anyone who thinks of D&D and beyond as a waste of time. Not only is play intrinsically about experimentation and learning in a low-stakes environment, it's about understanding the shaping of behaviour through structure. Which also explains, I suppose, why I've drifted inexorably into genre theory in my academic life.

Talking about genre: David Bowie is busy releasing his first album in about ten years. The one single, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)", and particularly its video, is an utterly fascinating disquisition on fame, identity, androgyny, and an explicit and rather wry dialogue with his own past. Also, Tilda Swinton. The music is very Reality-era, which works for me.

Good grief. That's a totally surreal collection. One of those inexplicable lateralities that could only exist on the internet.
Lol, I'd never thought of academic transcripts as character sheets, but of course they are.
Glad your painful rumint wrangling experiences paid off, I think bumpycat shares your pain in our current Oriental D&D game he's running. But I know the feeling now mike s is in my 13th Age game - freeform with someone who out-min-maxes me :)
Character sheets in a progressive sense, if you kept a separate one for each level. And no, not a painful rumint-wrangling experience at all - challenging, yes, but always entertaining :>. Mike is the other legendary min-maxer, of course, who is equally fun as a player. Even if, as with you, it's "fun" in the slightly hair-tearing sense :>.