Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hobbies, Interests and Hates

Inpsired by Lynn, who nicked it off Samantha.  


Games - Oh my I love to play games. Tabletop roleplaying games (runnning a 3:16 campaign right now), board games (loving the Lego games like City Alarm and Heroica), card games (UNO!), and even the odd video game like Minecraft and Professor Layton. I love the social aspects, and I love the aesthetics of a well made boardgame or what-not, but mostly I love pitting my brain against a puzzle. Particularly if I have latitude to solve it my way rather than the way the game designer intended.

Cosplay - A natural progression from my love of fancy dress parties and costuming is to make costumes to emulate specific characters. Often from Japanese cartoons, but not always. My current projects are a dinosaur from a friends webcomic, and Jerry Springer's Inner Valkyrie from Jerry Springer The Opera. I'm mostly self taught, but my Mum, girlfriend, and a few select friends have all contributed to my education.

Karaoke - Singing before an audience is an amazing feeling. Even if they're all scratching their head wondering what on earth I'm singing! I love to play with voices and accents, so its natural that I tend towards the more unusual songs - Sid Vicious's version of My Way is great fun to sing. The reaction of the crowd is an added bonus.

Dancing - I like to stomp and sway at my local goth/ebm/metal haunt. I never really liked dancing but I guess that's more to do with the music I used to hear in clubs, or maybe the clubs themselves. Dragging-up and letting the music move you is nothing at all like grinding to some repetative nonsense in the hopes of ending up with a drunk girl! I've also taken some Burlesque classes with Burlesque Norwich which was great fun, a heck of a workout, and really good for self esteem. I can't see myself on-stage anytime soon, but you never know. And I can always pilfer the dance moves and techniques for other purposes.  


Steampunk - I've got some retro clothes and I listen to Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer and Professor Elemental, but I still don't feel like a Steampunk. I will get around to attenting The Asylum, and getting some actual brass goggles rather than my Blue Peter-esque ones made from mrecycled stuff. For now I follow Facebook groups and look at the pretty clothes.

LARP - Live Action Roleplay is a bit like tabletop gaming, but you dress up like your character, act out yourn actions, and fight with rubber swords! Its always looked fascinating, but the expense and the sparseness of events has kept me an observer rather than a participant.


Television - OK its a cliche, and it makes me sound like a snob, but I dislike 99% of what appears on TV these days. I have a lot of DVDs of the final 1%, be it retro classics like Bagpuss and The Prisoner or newer shows like Burn Notice and The Wire, but I stopped actively watching TV a long time ago. I'll sometimes veg out at friends if we're all watching, but I have no interest in the soaps, or Britain's Got Talent.

Sports - Or rather the tribalness of sports fans. Its a game. It happens every week/year/four years. Most fans don't support the local team, have no input into them winning, and gain to real-world benefits if they win (or real world penalties if they lose). So why is it a big deal? I sit there baffled as workmates taunt eath other over who's team beat whom. And as for sports stats... I don't care who won this week. Why should I care what happened last year or further ago?

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Crossplay musings

Over the last couple of years I've started to get into Cosplay. There's a wikipedia article on the subject, but its basically fancy dress where you portray a specific character, and pay attention to the details. As well as the dressing up angle, I also like the challenge of creating a costume. Whether that's trying to find something similar in the shops to adapt, or going the whole hog and buying material and a pattern. Some people just buy the costumes (often from sweatshops in the far east), but that cuts out half of the fun for me.

In the late 90s and early 2000s I'd attended anime and manga conventions, seen the awesome costumes, and even attended talks and workshops, but I'd never got started. Fortunately some IRC silliness and peer pressure convinced me give it a go last May. As a T*person I naturally gravitated to what is know as Crossplay - cosplaying a character of a different gender to yourself - and I've been really surprised at the reception.

Crossplay has a bit of a bad rap because of male crossplayers with hairy legs and five o'clock shadow, and female crossplayers who act out smutty Yaoi (guy on guy snogging or worse) scenes in public. Fortunately I had my tranny skills, and I pick characters who don't expose bits I'm not proud of!

Although a few chav kids have made snide comments, the cosplayers I've met have been very complimentary, both about my novice costuming skills, and my feminine acting (although my self conscious nature always worries they are exaggerating). I think it has helped by picking fandoms where the majority of fans are female, and they are used to crossplaying to meet all the major roles.

Or maybe its novelty? MtF crossplayers are still quite the rarity when you exclude those doing it half-arsedly or for "a larf", so maybe they are preserving an endangerd species ;-)

Either way, my next costume in progress is Miss Finster from Disney's Recess. I'm hoping this will provoke some amused nostalgia!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Burlesque Update

I've been a bit slack with this blog haven't I? :)

Last week was the final lesson with Burlesque Norwich before the dance studio stops night classes for the summer (I have no idea why, but there you go). In the last fifteen week myself and the lovely K have progressed from the Beginners class to the Advanced one!

My choreography still leaves a lot to be desired (not to mention my memory for remembering a routine), but I now know several poses and walks, a number of ways to remove a stocking, slip, gloves and blouse! Some of the lessons and techniques have been challenging (The Charleston and lying back on a chair and "cycling" in the air) but it's been lots of fun. And our tutor and classmates are all really nice people. I hope they all come back in the autumn.

The talk of putting on a small show is still going ahead, and I'm feeling a bit more confident about performing at this Afternoon Tease, but we'll see what things are like later in the year.

In other news:

Next week is Norwich Pride again. Fingers crossed for dry weather!

And I've become addicted to Minecraft. Here's a castle I built for practice:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Seemed a good idea at the time.

OK. Who was the genius that suggested taking burlesque lessons?

Oh yeah, it was me!

A few weeks ago Burlesque Norwich had some taster sessions. I've not managed to make it to one of their perfomance nights yet, but I thought it sounded like fun, and would make a few trannies out there a little jealous ;-)

My GF said she was up for it too, so we toodled off and had a go.

Apart from a couple of bitchy girls who spent the session sniggering and whispering (possibly about me, possibly about some of the older or heavier dancers, I don't know) it was fun. And quite the work out. I wanted to sign up for the beginners course right away, but K wanted to think about it. There was going to be a second course a few weeks later, and with luck the bitchy girls would go on the first course, or not come back.

Last week was our first lesson.

Decked out in my casual drag (hot pants, black leggings, bare feet and a cute t-shirt) I learned some poses, and a three person mini-routine involving a chair, switching places and Hey Big Spender. It was much easier than the lyric-free dance we learned at the taster, and it was fun.

This week was much harder! Apart from a few domestic disasters that meant we were late (and I missed the warmup getting into costume) the step-up to stockings and heels made a big difference.

Probably didn't help having a slightly different physiology to the rest of the class, being unfit, and being a bit of a heifer either! ;-)

Also ripped a stocking learning the peel technique for seductively removing your stockings. But the tutor did give me some ankle exercises to practice for next week. We're using props for that lesson (like feather boas and fans)

I think I might not progress to the intermediate class at this rate (although you never know). But I am looking forward to the ball we're having in June to promote the class and let the more confident dancers have a go with an audience. Not sure whether I'll volunteer to go up at the moment. But we'll see!

More next week!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In Exile

Saturday night was the first Exile club night of 2011. Exile is the replacement for the Chains on Velvet goth night in Norwich at The Waterfront.

I haven't been since it changed it's name a few years back, but K was interested in wearing her new purchases from the new gothy shop out here in the sticks. We've also made friends with the shop's owners G and L and they said they'd meet up with us if we went too. So off we went.

Getting dressed was slightly issue-filled as things decided not to fit properly, or to play badly with other items once on, but we left the house on time and looking good.

Not a great pic (you can't see my kitty ears), but you get the general stripey pink/black Cheshire Cat vibe from it.

We met G and L in the Hotel Nelson bar and got plenty of funny looks from the other patrons (the barstaff seemed fine though. I guess they were either professionals, or were still reeling from the cosplay event there earlier in the day!) Fine by me. You don't wear a PVC mini-dress and hair extensions to blend in! I just smiled back at the people who stared. After that we popped to a pub, and then on to the main event.

It hasn't changed much. They even had the same banners and wall hangings.

The event is held in the upstairs room of The Waterfront, with a dancefloor, stage, and bar. It was quite empty at the start, and the DJ wasn't doing much to fill the floor. To be honest the music wasn't that great all night. Apart from some Rammstein, and some dancier numbers, it was generic EBM, and slowish gothy stuff I didn't recognise. Shame really. I got in some dancing, but mostly chatted to people, and wandered the other rooms of the venue. There was an alternative-indie night downstairs, but after staying for a couple of songs K and I were unimpressed and went back up.

I didn't feel like I was passing for female (and there were lots of teen girls about), so I used the gents when needed. Which led to amusement later as a bunch of drunk lads waiting for their girls to come out yelled, "THAT'S THE BLOKES LOO!" as I went in. I wasn't feeling up to witty banter, so I just yelled back, " I HAVE A PENIS!" which caused the guy leaving the room to look me up and down and ask, "Really?"

Once inside (and waiting for the cubicle) I chatted with two lads about knighthoods and titles (as you do ;)) and was pleased when they commented on my outfit. The chattier of the pair said that he was from London, so my outfit was pretty normal for a goth night, but that he was impressed I had the balls to wear it in a backwater like this. I bumped into him later, and he said that he was still impressed :D

The general style was interesting to see. We had one or two girls in PVC and corsets, a few girls in leopardprint/50's style, a Ramona Flowers lookalike, couple of guys in fishnet and bondage pants, and quite a lot of black jeans and t-shirts. There also was a guy in a hooded cape, but he looked a little selfconscious. I think I'm gonna stick with the cyberstyle for future events, as for small town nights I have to dress-down and stick to blokey stuff.

Much later in the evening I saw a fellow clubber I hadn't met in years. It took a while to recognise me, but she said she was pleased I'd dropped the metal-headlook, and embraced cybergoth. We than had a chat and caught up. I wonder if she'll respond to the message I sent this morning on Facebook?

As the event is now every few months, rather than monthly, we'll probably make the effort next time as well, as overall it was fun, despite the so-so music

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Echo Bazaar: The strange tale of Fallen London

I've recently been hooked by a browser game called Echo Bazaar. Its a clever little thing with a rather wonderful atmosphere and turn of phrase.

Victorian London was stolen (or maybe it was sold, it's not entirely clear) and is now located several miles under the earth. Some things haven't changed - there are urchins, and criminals, and a crazed killer on the loose (the mysterious Face Tailor). But there are some things about that really shouldn't be - Hell has an embassy here, and devils go about their business like any other person; death isn't permanent for the cunning or ruthless; nightmares are very real; and a drop of the mysterious Prisoner's Honey will transport you somewhere else....

Practically, it is a mostly text game (although items and stories have some wonderfully evocative illustrations) where you have ten actions to spend on mini stories, with these actions refreshing at a regular rate. You can also refresh once a day by Twittering an advert for the game.

Stories range from one-off encounters from your opportunities deck - contact from a maiden aunt, or an invitation to see The Duchess - to complex storylets with multiple choices and opportunities - the Mushroom Jumping Races, clearing your house of a vermin infestation, or seducing an impoverished artist.

Everything you do can affect your four stats - Dangerous, Watchful, Persuasive and Shadowy - or give you "status ailments" like Nightmares, Scandal, Wounds or Suspicion. Some key decisions can give you a reputation for Hedonism, Ruthlessness or even Daring. And you can build up a network of connections from the urchins and criminals all the way up to the devils and high society. You might even become a player in the Great Game.

So what have I been up to in the game?
I very foolishly flirted with devils, and met up with them at the circus for a chat.
I brought a message back for a greiving widow when I escaped death.
I invited my aunt down to the city to live the life she's always dreamed of.
I've played with the hearts of an artist and his model.
I've protected urchins from thugs.
I've made progress on discovering the secrets of the Face Tailor
I've made it my life's ambition to hunt and kill the mysterious creature The Vake.
And I've been bitten by The Eater of Chains while rescuing a family.

Of all the rest that last one worries me the most. My girlfriend thinks I'm mad for being on first name terms with minions of hell, but that festering bite mark has all sorts of dangerous and exciting story potential. I wonder where it will lead?

Join in the Echo Bazaar here

Or read the blog of the designers for all sorts of interesting gossip

Sunday, October 10, 2010


In the last week or so, I've had three people favourite a very ropey Flickr pic of me dressed up at a friends hen night.

Its not a great pic, and there's no nudity, or underwear in shot. And as far as I know I've not been on So what on earth caused this spontaneous favouriting?