Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Samba, Pizza, and Cultural Appropriation

Where does she stow it?
Where Does She Stow It?, Helsinki, 2005

Some 25 years ago or thereabouts, I got into a heated disagreement with a very good friend of mine. He's American, and was in Finland as an exchange student. We were making pizza. I don't remember the exact point of disagreement, but it had something to do with the recipe. To my recollection, at some point he snapped something like "It's not like you invented it." That, naturally, awoke my pan-European patriotic spirit, and I rose to heroically defend the honor of the Italians.

We made up, eventually. He was the best man in my wedding, and I returned the favor a few years later. But it remains the worst dispute I've had with him. Over pizza.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Un-Friending Facebook

Photo by Joanna.
I terminated my Facebook account yesterday. I had that account for almost exactly five years.

I liked some things about Facebook. Some of them I liked quite a lot. Others only a little.
Finding people.
Being found.
Sharing links.
Sharing pictures.
Looking at other people's links and pictures.
Knowing classmates still exist, and a bit what they're up to.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dungeon Mastering

Divine Light

I've been running pen-and-paper role-playing game campaigns for most of my life, on and off. When I and two friends of mine started, I was about thirteen or fourteen. In the beginning, we took turns dungeon mastering (nobody wanted to), but eventually that role settled on me. I don't think I've been a player in a pen-and-paper campaign since then, except one very brief foray into a Rolemaster campaign some fifteen years ago. I figured out that wasn't for me after it took ten minutes to resolve that I had shot an arrow, and missed.

Dungeon mastering -- or gamekeeping, or gamemastering, or whatever, depending on the ruleset in use -- has been one of my most significant creative outlets. One game system calls it storytelling, and I think that hits pretty close to the mark. They're like group improv sessions in many ways. Quite often I have no idea whatsoever where a session is going to go, and the ones I find most satisfying are precisely the ones that take off in unpredictable directions, with the players riffing off each other and me riffing off them. Usually the ones where I've done my homework are the boring ones.