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dancefloorlandmine: (Architecture)
Saturday, January 19th, 2019 03:40 pm
From LensCulture.com, here's a series of photographs of cinemas from around the world, some closed and re-used, some still in operation, revealing the range of circumstances in which people come (or came) together to lose themselves in the moving pictures upon the silver, or white, or concrete screen. They range from a white-painted concrete wall at the end of a car park, through the gothic majesty of one in London, now a bingo hall, to the gilt heights of California, by way of Casablanca, Cairo, and Delhi.

Silver Screen, by Stephan Zaubitzer
dancefloorlandmine: (Art)
Saturday, January 12th, 2019 02:33 pm
Here is a gallery of photos of Wistman's Wood on Dartmoor. It's a grove of dwarf oak that looks like something out of Malificent or similar, taken by an award-winning amateur photographer.

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dancefloorlandmine: Me pointing at camera (Kitchener)
Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 06:09 pm
Here's a link to a linkstew from Cambridge, detailing some discoveries and other stories from 2018:

https://www.cam.a.uk/24CamThings2018
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dancefloorlandmine: DJing at B-Movie Nov 04 (DJ)
Sunday, December 16th, 2018 11:56 pm
The drama over which promoter can claim to be putting on a goth festival at Whitby continued, but with 'both events' taking place on the same weekend this time around, we were back at The Whitby Way, slowly taking over the venue from the Formula One being watched on the screens. We even managed to capture a few people who'd come in for the TV, and stayed considerably longer than they'd intended.

Our next appearance in Whitby will be on Sunday 28th April 2019 ...

Meanwhile, here's what we played this time:

Read more... )
dancefloorlandmine: (Gigs)
Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 07:33 pm
About a month ago, I went to Croydon Conference Centre for the 2018 iteration of Croydon Rocks. Which turned out to be not as mis-named as some might suggest. I'm still working my way through the slew of photos that I took, but in the meantime, and partly for my reference, here's someone else's fairly succinct review of the day, featuring handy links to each of the bands that played.

Down The Front Media's review of the event.
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dancefloorlandmine: (Dice)
Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 06:38 pm
Last Saturday I dragged myself out of the house at an hour before I'm usually awake, to head up to the Novotel Hammersmith to get to Dragonmeet 2018. On previous years it had clashed with other things, but this time I could make it ...

Having been warned previously that I would need to get there early in order to be able to sign up for the gaming sessions, I found myself only part-way down the queue that was doubling back around the conference reception hall. This year, the team had decided to phase the sign-up sheets, so as to enable later arrivals a faint chance of getting a slot in an afternoon game, and similarly, the evening games. It was apparently an improvement on previous years, although still something of a melee, and sometimes a little challenging to read the sheets at a distance to work out which sheet was the one for the game you wanted to play. Still, years of gig experience enabled me to sign up to a game each time.

In the morning session I ended up in a Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (4th Edition) game. It was interesting to see how the system, while returning slightly to its origins, had incorporated elements of more recent games as well. My character, an unfortunate con-artist who had been mistakenly rounded up after a brawl between a snooty high elf and a grumpy dwarf had caused one of the Lustrian settlement's pubs to burn down, spent quite a lot of the game with her head in her hands, as we attempted to contain the ongoing feud for long enough to complete our court-ordered stint in the militia, delivering medical supplies to the army outpost at Orc's Drift. And yes, we did see quite a large number of orcs by the end of the session, numbering in the tens of hundreds. I believe her war cry was also a variant on "Not the face!"

After a rather tasty but rather expensive Aberdeen Angus burger (next time I'm going to make sure that I schedule in popping down the road to the rather cheaper local food places), I fought through the melee to find a sheet for one of the games I had shortlisted - initially billed as Deathwatch, Fantasy Flight Games' Warhammer 40K role-playing game branch handling a unit of Space Marines from various chapters acting as a special ops group, it turned out to have been slightly mis-listed - the setting was the same, but the system was a custom, playing-card-based, one, selected to give a more heroic feel to the game than the GM felt was provided by the original mechanic. It worked rather well too, although there was a slight moment of double-take when we discovered one of the other players was a close-up magician, and he demonstrated his card-shuffling skills - he did promise not to do any deck-stacking during actual play, though. We fought off chaos daemons, regenerating psychic-null half-animal somethings, and eventually had to take off and get someone else to nuke the site from orbit. It was the only way to be sure.

After another melee at the sign-up boards, and a chat to people I bumped into from various gaming groups, it was back to another gaming table, to play a session of Coriolis, a game I recently acquired but hadn't yet played - a science-fiction setting with an Arabian twist. Our team of characters, hired to help out with an evacuation from a mining colony, found themselves waking on a badly-damaged ship - and then discovered that there was at least one killer (other than us) stalking the halls. The GM was wonderfully enthusiastic about the system and setting, but this did lead to a couple of side-tracks, but it was still a good taster of the system and the setting, and we did manage to (eventually) rescue our captain from being mauled by the predatory creature he ended up wearing as a hat. Combat in the system is very deadly, with a high chance of injuries that will be terminal without medical attention, but the success-resolution system does seem somewhat difficult at times (it's a d6 dice pool mechanic, but only sixes count as successes - which means that, if you're only rolling five dice ...)

And then back home again, with the last game having ended in time to get a couple of trains, rather than an interminable succession of buses. I'm somewhat tempted to offer to run a game next year if it's not clashing. Possibly even a Traveller adventure featuring the further adventures of the Type S Scout ship, the Captain Lawrence Oates.
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dancefloorlandmine: (Dice)
Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 06:09 pm
Following up on this post about the drop-in RPG session at the The Ludoquist in Croydon, I did indeed end up running a game of Grant Howitt's Honey Heist for the one player who didn't fancy something Lovecraftian. His "honey badger thief wearing a crown" demonstrated some imaginative approaches for achieving his goal of stealing as much honey as possible, including something like seven changes of disguise, ramming a van into a restaurant (and later blowing up the rest of the restaurant), the complete destruction of a luxury hotel suite, and finally heading off over the dark sea in a stolen motor yacht with several large cannisters of honey skipping over the waves behind them on tow-ropes.

Since then, I've also played in two modern-day Cthulhu games - and, by some definitions, my characters were technically 'alive' at the end of the run-time of each. Possibly also technically 'sane', although at the end of the second game my brain was in a jar and controlling someone else's body ...

I also played in a 13th Age one-shot game, in which our trio of adventurers raided a gnome sorceror's abode after he died unexpectedly in the street of a heart attack, facing magical defences and another team of home-invaders adventurers with the same plan. My dark elf fighter's dice rolls alternated between ineffectual wafting with the two-handed sword to lethal bifurcation - and back again. Good fun, and the first D&D-based game I've played for over fifteen years. Some good touches in that version of the system, too, including a mechanic that gives an increasing bonus to the players' dice rolls the longer that a fight continues, to prevent things bogging down in frustrating poor rolls.

And then I finally fulfilled my promise and actually ran something. In fact, it was the first time I'd actually run a Traveller¹ adventure since buying the Traveller Starter Set in about 1984, although I had played in a couple over the years. While there is now an open-source fork, under the name The Cepheus Engine, this was a spin-off of the Mongoose version of Traveller (the first one, not the current one). As is traditional, a group of characters are hired to do something - in this case, an investigative task ... Not only did the players (claim to) enjoy it, at least one said that they would be interested in playing some more of it (which means I now need to write another one). And I've been doing some more tuning on it, to be able to offer to run it for other interested player groups, and possibly punt it up for a convention game in the future. (See next post, and please get in touch if you'd be interested in playing it sometime, potentially over Discord.)

¹ Traveller is possibly the grandparent of science-fiction gaming, having come out in the late 70s, and moved away from concepts of character classes to having a prior career history for characters (infamously, in the original editions, it was possible to have your character die during character generation). The default setting features a bunch of mismatched characters with varied life-stories flying between planets in a battered old freighter, taking on occasionally questionable tasks to keep the ship operational - this has led some to wonder whether a certain popular-but-cancelled science fiction series was simply a fictionalisation of a Traveller campaign.
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dancefloorlandmine: (Dice)
Saturday, October 6th, 2018 06:59 pm
The Ludoquist games café in Croydon has started doing drop-in RPG sessions on Tuesday evenings. I, possibly foolishly, said I might be up for running something. So now I'm scratching my head to come up with something that will run for about 3 hours with up to 6 players (but won't be derailed with fewer). Basically, the kind of thing that I played at CallaCon - but I only ever ran one, and that was with two players. I've run a couple of one-shots before, and I've got a couple of ideas circling, but, if I do this, I want to do it properly, so I was looking up some tips online.

Which led me to this article about old RPGs on Geek And Sundry, which features a line to make a grognard giggle - “I had a kid ask about ThAC0 and I just handed him the 2nd ed AD&D Player’s Handbook and he came back 45 minutes later and said he would not complain about 5th ed ever again.” And the photo of old games at the head of the page gave me a warm feeling inside. Not just because I can see my copy of one of them from where I'm sat on my sofa. [grin] I've played four of the seven, and have handled copies of two more, but never got around to playing them.

Ho-hum. Right, back to watching TV and mulling ideas for Tuesday evening. If nothing else comes up, I've just picked up the two-page pdf for Honey Heist by Grant Howitt, which looks suitably rules-light and entertaining. ("Here is the plot: 1) You have a complex plan that requires precise timing. 2) You are a GODDAMN BEAR.")
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dancefloorlandmine: (Architecture)
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018 02:30 pm
This time it's the Architectural Photography Awards 2018. Admittedly, not as funny as the Comedy Wildlife Awards, but some are pretty dramatic or atmospheric. (Some of the architecture, though, is a little 'dramatic modern architecture' in style.)
dancefloorlandmine: Me pointing at camera (Kitchener)
Sunday, September 30th, 2018 02:07 pm
If you've not already seen the finalists of the 2018 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, I recommend that you follow this link. Not only are they excellent photos in and of themselves, but the moments captured ... perfect. I suspect that these may become meme-fodder fairly rapidly, or source images for demotivational images.
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dancefloorlandmine: DJing at B-Movie Nov 04 (DJ)
Monday, September 24th, 2018 03:18 pm
My second visit to the London Canal Museum for a DJ set was for Ruth and Paul's wedding reception. (The previous visit being a birthday party several years ago.) It's a really interesting venue, in an old ice warehouse, with circulating area downstairs among some of the exhibits, and an upper floor that can be cleared for dining and/or dancing - and very helpful staff.

The "legal stuff" having been sorted out the previous day, the evening started downstairs with champagne, a brief speech, and the exchange of rings, then upstairs for the meal and speeches, a quick break downstairs for cake-cutting while the upstairs was res-arranged to clear a dancefloor, and then back up for the 'disco' (which was my contribution).

Here's what I played ... )

The evening also included something of a surprise - one of the wedding party asked whether I had a copy of Hava Nagila, or any other Jewish music, but unfortunately, I was unprepared (not having the appropriate Me First & The Gimme Gimmes album to hand). A little later, they obviously worked out that a track that I was playing had the right rhythm and tempo, resulting in the novel experience of seeing a dozen wedding guests enthusiastically clapping and singing Hava Nagila to Utah Saint's Believe In Me. Seemed to work, though, so I might have to remember that for the future!
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dancefloorlandmine: DJing at B-Movie Nov 04 (DJ)
Monday, September 24th, 2018 04:20 am
After she organised a birthday surprise for him in Whitby, where 'going out for some tea and cake' turned into a gathering of many of his friends (with tea and cake), it seems that James wanted to return the favour. And, from Kallista's response on arrival, it would appear that operational secrecy had been maintained.

Thus, I headed up to Wearside, breaking my journey with friends in Nottingham, and arriving at the rather fine North Biddick Social Club to set up my gear on the wide stage, and then be completely over-matched by the extensive lighting set-up which had been booked.

Guests started to arrive from various parts of the country and then, warned by a text message, assembled silently just inside the doors of the main hall, to a jaw-dropped response - at which point we kicked off the music. (And, a little later, discovered that the smoke sensors had not been isolated, as the smoke machine tripped the fire alarm.) Other than that slight incident, though, it appeared that all went well ...

Here's what was played ... )
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dancefloorlandmine: Me hiding behind camera (CameraEOS)
Monday, September 3rd, 2018 04:37 pm
Back in February, RandomRedhead and I headed out to Polesden Lacey, a National Trust properly in Surrey, on a very soggy day. There was thus very little wandering around the gardens, and quite a lot of sheltering in the rather fine house.

Polesden Lacey was built in the 1820s, and was then remodelled in the 1900s, and was left to the National Trust by Edwardian society hostess par excellence, Mrs Greville, who number King Edward among her regular guests. She was noted for her travels and collections of art, and the house includes a noted collection of Dutch Old Masters and a large number of art pieces collected through her travels across Asia, as well as exhibits related to life at the house.

On this particular visit, there was a specific exhibition of some of the Asian art. I took my camera along ... and some photos are behind this cut. )

If you want to see more of the photos, the full gallery is here.
dancefloorlandmine: (Art)
Saturday, August 18th, 2018 07:25 pm
Thanks to a Pinterest "You may be interested in" email, I've been made aware of the installation artwork of Henrique Oliviera. Which is pretty damn impressive, and the kind of thing I'm rather keen on.

Or, as someone else put it, "That's a lot of wood!"

The artist's own site is irkingly Flash-based, although there is helpfully (for some of us) a version in English: www.henriqueoliviera.com

But, if you'd like a glimpse of the kind of thing that he does, here's a sample. )
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dancefloorlandmine: DJing at B-Movie Nov 04 (DJ)
Sunday, August 5th, 2018 06:28 pm
It is often said that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. It might equally be written that no party DJ schedule survives contact with a heatwave.

Adam had booked the rather fine Cavendish Arms in Stockwell for his party, with a backroom equipped with air-conditioning and a fitted PA, and a bar with decent beers and ciders (and a kitchen doing rather good pizzas). He'd also scheduled a couple of really good DJs (Steve Horry and Chris Damage, and me. Unfortunately, in the event, Chris had to cancel at the last moment for family reasons, and Mark 'Mark13' Chapman stepped in at the last moment.

The original plan had been to start the music at six, but with the hot weather, everyone was socialising outside, so we delayed until around eight. Unfortunately, the attraction of a clear sky remained great, but the occasional few still braved the air-conditioning to come in and dance after a while, with the numbers increasing slowly as the evening went on. It was nice to set up on a stage large enough to dance behind the decks, though the mirror on the far side of the venue was slightly disconcerting.

Here's what was played ... )

(Not for the first time, I wished that venues with well-soundproofed dance floors would have repeater speakers in the bar area.)
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dancefloorlandmine: DJing at B-Movie Nov 04 (DJ)
Sunday, August 5th, 2018 05:35 pm
In May, I, along with quite a few others, headed up to Norwich for Alix and Dvae's wedding reception in the converted church that is Norwich Puppet Theatre. The nave has been turned into a full theatre with banked seating, with the side aisle converted into a bar and waiting area, and an extension hosting the buffet. With two bands scheduled, and a slew of DJs, there was quite a bit of scheduling required and, as is often the case, some rescheduling as running times shifted and flexed. Darren Demondaz generously gave up his DJing slot due to over-runs, and a last-minute loan from one of the bands meant that we could actually connect the decks to the PA, as all of the rented cables had been used up. After all that, though, we managed to keep the music going before, between, and after, the bands, and people seemed to enjoy it.

Only some of the DJs (Chris, Psyche, and I) noted our playlists, and they're below ...

Here's what we played ... )
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dancefloorlandmine: DJing at B-Movie Nov 04 (DJ)
Friday, May 25th, 2018 12:39 am
In April, following a venue shuffle, The 80s Night was back in the former Wellington, now refurbished, with a new layout, a bigger bar, and a more powerful PA, and rechristened The Whitby Way. It seemed that the air-con hadn't been touched, though, so the venue ended up as warm as ever. The new stage was large enough to safely park Kat's chair, and the pre-wired booth was excellent, with room for both decks and CDs.

The 80s Night )
dancefloorlandmine: DJing at B-Movie Nov 04 (DJ)
Friday, May 25th, 2018 12:13 am
Back at the start of April, I fled the office at a surprisingly reasonable time, loaded my decks into the back of MineCruiser2, and headed for the Thames. Having done some reconnaissance in advance, I'd managed to find somewhere to put the car within gear-carrying distance, as Red had invited me to DJ at his birthday party, which was being held at Tamesis Dock, a moored and converted 1930s Dutch barge, now featuring a two-level bar. After karaoke, and the correcting of the PA's configuration by Paul of The Memepunks, it was time to DJ, alternating sets with Andy Ravensable.

Here's what I played ... )
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dancefloorlandmine: (Books)
Sunday, January 7th, 2018 01:59 pm
It's not a book, but it's a rather fine short story, although it may well make you peckish for bao. I know I am now ...

Hungry Demigods by Andrea Tang
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dancefloorlandmine: DJing at B-Movie Nov 04 (DJ)
Sunday, December 3rd, 2017 09:17 pm
Well, it's early December, which means it's about time for The Memepunks' annual anniversary gig. This time, with goth stalwarts Manuskript at the top of the bill, and the night being opened by the act with the social-media-friendly name of Foxcunt. And once again The Memepunks generously asked me to DJ for the intermissions and until closing time.

Slightly odd set-up, as due to a combination of limited space in the venue room, and the fact that it would be closing before the bar, I was parked on a couple of tables in an alcove by the door - which made fitting songs around the bands slightly challenging, as it was hard to see if they were either on stage and ready to go, or, conversely, finished on stage, and ready for the interval music to restart. Just about pulled it off, I think, although due to the venue's acoustics and the need to get back to the decks, it did mean that I didn't really get to see quite as much of the bands as from a more usual arrangement (on the other hand, it also meant that they were safer from my dancing, which might have been the point).

For the unfamiliar, Foxcunt are a punky bunch (with the tagline "Art. Punk. Cider. Riot."), The Memepunks are a live mash-up band, and Manuskript are guitar-and-keyboard goth.

Setlists below )