Friday, March 31, 2006

Under Seige

There was some ugliness at work yesterday, with the mob mentality in full effect. It's an unpleasant thing to have about 30 or 40 people banging on the doors and windows, shouting and swearing.

Fortunately there was a phone handy, so I could contact the main office for some support.

I am reminded of comments Debbie made in the past, that people can look mighty damn ugly when they're being violent and aggressive.

On a more pleasant note, it's the weekend tomorrow, and I am greatly looking forward to it. The weariness of the end of term is starting to sink in, and sleeping in and not seeing teenagers is a greatly good thing. The next two weeks might be a little tough, with extra hours and frazzled nerves, but there's a break coming soon enough.

Oh, and plans are slowly being hatched for a joint 30th birthday celebration, perhaps around the [date to be sorted out, a Saturday in April/May, perhaps the 6th of May?] There will be bowling, and curry, and drinking, and possibly some Singstar. Further news as the plan takes shape...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Game Chef 2006 Entry

My rather silly 5 page entry can be found here:

There were 61 entries this year, and some of them look pretty damn awesome. Judging will take place over the next couple of weeks. I'm very curious to check out the top 8 entries, and the overall winner. As Morgue said yesterday, it's damn impressive what some people can achieve in a week!

Friday, March 24, 2006

To Absent Friends

Y'all is good people in my books, fer sure.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The rain it raineth all the time

I find it interesting the ways in which kids get hooked into topics at school. My Year 12 students have been struggling to read a book which is an autobiography of a young black woman growing up in the South in the 30s and 40s. I've found it hard to get them interested and motivated, but there were 2 things that seemed to get some students hooked this week:

1. An allusion to the Bible, and the discussion that it generated. The allusion was about the needle giving because the camel cannot. It was in relation to a sexual assault, so was a disturbing metaphor/analogy. The discussion about what the Bible stands for as a text, and what connotations that has for the novel was fascinating, mostly for finding out what the students really don't know.

2. A comparison to the Fort Minor song Kenji, as there is a chapter where all the Japanese people are rounded up and put into internment camps. A few students were familiar with the song, and this helped them to put the novel into a context that they could understand. I think that helped them to be more enthused in general about the novel (even though the link is to only one chapter out of 36).

So, I should strive to introduce kids to as many literary texts as possible, as well as make connections that they can understand, as they may not be able to make those connections by themselves. And I've got to somehow get them to actually read the book, from cover to cover.

Right after I finish this massive pile of marking on my desk...

Hmmm, looking at the title of the post and the tone that some of it could be read in, it would not be hard to beleive that I was not the jollyest man alive. I can't quite claim that status, but I am very happy, and content. The world is a goodly place, and I am a lucky man. Sometimes I feel like a good teacher too - sometimes quite by accident :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Matters Arsing

The report back from the College Council contained an interesting typo for Matters Arising. Debbie suggested I submit it to I don't know if they exist.

I am running a course right now. I sent the students off to film something. They will return any second, so I'd better skedaddle.


Monday, March 20, 2006

I Likes Days Off

Many nice things have happened recently, and I am a well happy fellow. The fact that I survived my first class of the week, and am now enjoying a non-contact hour, is the most recent reason for celebration.

My class went in their activity day. There were many outdoor pursuits, no fights this year, and everyone seemed to have a very good time. I managed to read about 30 pages of Capes whilst on the trip, so that was fun too. I had been warned that Capes was hard to read, and I tend to agree, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I am quite keen to run a little game some time, just to try it out. My main comment on the way that the rulebook is written is that it's oddly organised - with all the rules at the start, character generation at the end, and lots of specific terminology in the rules that's entirely based on stuff you use to make up characters? The more traditional approach of telling people how to make up a character, and then telling them how to use that character, may have some distinct benefits, and may have helped here.

Friday night was a quiet one for me - I had a little sleepy in the evening, watched Ghost in the Shell 2 which is one of the prettiest anime I've seen to date, and picked up Debbie in the wee hours of the morning from her night on the harbour and in town.

We tidied up, had a visit from Debbie's ma, and then headed over to Luke and Sam's for roleplaying stuff. We made up characters for Nocturnum, which we'll be starting soonish, and played through the start of a With Great Power game. The d20 character generation process is a lot of fun - it reminds me of the kind of gaming I did as a teenager. I was pleased to see that the Cthulhu d20 rulebook even has pictures of the most popular guns in it.

WGP was really interesting, and I'm looking forward to playing a full session of it (some time when we're not all tired would be good). I like the way it focuses on what's going to be put in jeopardy for each character, and the way you have to think about the way each of your assetts can be vulnerable. Neat stuff.

The Pink Ladies came over for lunch, then they all headed off to do work stuff. I bumbled about the house feeling slightly unwell, went out and bought a new camera (having lost the old one), and read blogs and such.

I also submitted my entry for this year's Game Chef Challenge. Pretty light, silly stuff, but fun to write. In submitting it I have signed myself up to score and review 4-5 other entries. This should be an interesting process. I'm quite looking forward to it.

The Future
This week will be a busy one, as usual. I have a course to run on Wednesday which I am partially prepared for (maybe 70%?). I should really get to work on getting 100% prepared. Then there's gaming, and mufti day, and all the usual fun of the fairground.

Should be a blast :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Where'd the day go?

Huh. It's 4 o'clock and I haven't been outside yet.

I had today off to prepare a course that I'm running next week. I managed to get 2 hours of solid wokr done in the morning, which was great. But now it's all 4 o'clocky and I haven't really done anything with the afternoon.

I guess I'll be doing some work in the weekend.

Now I have a whole bunch of chapter summaries to write. I may in fact have to go into work to pick up the book.

I've been greatly enjoying reading people's blogs. I suspect that maybe that's where the afternoon went!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Crab Truckers - More detail

Morgue has written up the game here. It was a hell of a lot of fun, and I happen to have kept my character sheet, on which I also wrote a couple of quotes:

Name: Iron Shell
Role: Driver
Skills: Drive, Sing, Scuttlebutt, Tai Chi
Truck: Red Bertha, a tricked out karaoke disco truck
Co-pilot: MC Cash, a Lifter


"The hut made of guns contains all the water from a swimming pool, minus the pool itself. The guns are all pointed inwards, and the water is too scared to move."

"Swans are all smashing into the walls, in your face... you've lost your diagram of cheese."

"I jam the barrel (of the Police Speed Tank) with 3 swans."

"I spraypaint him (the slack worker who's holding things up) to look like boiling water" (crabs hate boiling water)

Favourite moments:

Debbie's crab decapitating a giraffe, and finding that he had eaten our truck! Norman's crab had spraypainted our truck to look like a herd of giraffes, so that we'd be unable to find it. We were totally fooled, and thought that the very motionless giraffes had stolen our truck and hidden it. We decided to take out the leader as a show of strength, then question the others. As it turned out we didn't have to question anyone, but sadly the sound system for the truck had been damaged by being eaten, and got stuck on Abba (Crabba?).

BriX the giant brick-looking truck dragging several miles of fence along with it as it crashed into a missile testing site.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I Have the Nicest Friends

What a weekend! The last few days have been jam packed with awesome roleplaying goodness, a sprinkling of sunny outdoor activities, and heapin' heaps of hanging out with the loveliest of peeps.


The end of the working week is always a joy, as there is nothing like having to go to work 5 days a week to make you appreciate the weekend. Last week was a pretty average one in terms of work, so I was exhausted and mentally bamboozled as per usual. Debbie and I cooked delicious sweet and sour chicken, and enjoyed the warm feeling of freedom that Fridays brings. Later we were joined by Luke and Sam for some Buzz (which we bought just after school on Friday) and a viewing of the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The movie was well creepy, and featured excellent use of odd camera angles and framing of shots, and very spooky sound. I liked it a bunch, and it was interesting to watch and think about the scariness of it in relation to the discussions of zombies that's been going on over at NZRaG.

Saturday Morning

Debbie had dance class in the morning, so I got up and tried to get a few chores done. I managed to tidy up a little, and read quite a few blogs, so that was good.

We finished tidying up and got ourselves showered and dressed just in time for the arrival of the Nick. He came bearing stories of 3L pineapple juice cans, ponchos, and being solar powered. All of this was wonderful and helped get my brain limbered up for the coming roleplaying experiences. We all headed off to subway, and discussed such concepts as horizontal bungy, where the bungyer would have to wear a jet pack or anti-grav belt of some kind to prevent falling, and would have to push off really, really hard.


The event that we'd been looking forward to had finally arrived - Mega Roleplaying Redux! With something like 20 people involved, we were looking at 3 games running at a time. I managed to play in 3 games over the course of the weekend, and run one. Brief comments on each:

I Know, Right?

Run by Jenni, this game featured myself, Debbie, Sam, Morgue and Giffy as players. This was one of the most intimidating games I've signed up for in the past few years. As Morgue put it, it may only have been a game, but it was a game Debbie, Sam and Giffy had been playing for years. We were totally out of our depths, and were both frankly scared going into it.

I started out as the Torn Bystander, basically wanting everyone to get along. Morgue was the Banker, the keeper of all secrets. Debbie was the Queen Bee, and Giffy was her sidekick. Poor Sam was the Target - part of our clique, so inherently cooler than everyone outside our circle of friends, but clearly the bottom of the pecking order.

We were a drama clique, and had fixated (at Debbie's behest) on the term 'cockney'. We'd refer to things that were fetch as being cockney, and would eat, like, British food and everything.

The games was absolutely awesome, and terrifying. We had the chairs set up to mirror the social status, and when the Queen Bee was deposed and we all had to move to new seats to reflect the new pecking order it was really effective.

I was thoroughly impressed by everyone's roleplaying, by Jenni's GMing, and by the fact that nobody wanted to leave the room to go to the bathroom because they were too scared that everyone would plot against them when their back was turned.

Big Mother Fucking Crab Truckers

Morgue ran an hour and a half long session of this excellent game. The entire game - system and setting - was printed on a double sided A4 sheet. The premise is that you play giant crabs (6 foot high, 6 foot wide) who drive big fucking trucks, and ship stuff for the Crab Goddess. Each truck has a crew of 2 giant crabs. Debbie and I were a team, and were racing against 3 other duos to be the first to deliver our cargo from Crab Mountain to San Francisco.

The cargoes were awesome - we had massive blocks of cheese (which we had to keep refrigerated); Luke and Frank had 600 live swans (which became very angry as Luke tried to train them to hate cheese); Norman and Nick C had hundred of wobble-headed dolls, interlocked to make a statue of the Crab Goddess; and Nick P and Sam had all the water from a swimming pool, minus the pool itself.

The game was hilarious and heartfelt, with a lot of swearing, challenges to actions (with the official phrase "no fucking way!"), and madness. I have a few quotes, which I will put up shortly. Here's a taste:

"A bunch of giraffes listening to Abba just stole my fridge!"

Truth and Justice

Paul ran a teen student supers game on Sunday. It was hilarious fun, with much crossover with Jenni's game. Nick C and Sam and I all played teen girls, and were much more worried about going to parties and getting dates for the prom than actually thwarting super villains.

The game ended with us proving that a classmate was a witch by shining a cross shaped spotlight on her. Unfortunately this caused the 20 foot high demon inside her to come out, forcefully, through her skin. She kind of exploded on her date. We battled 2 villains in a deconsecrated church, then learned that the exploded girl had been voted Prom Queen, and had to contemplate the tragedy of her inevitable exploding.

Me Run Game

'Twas OK. To Live and Die in
Japan. Went well, enjoyed reminiscing.

Other Business

Some of us went for a short jog to the park, then met up with many others for Frisbee throwing and ball kicking. It was awesome. I remember looking around at all the people who were there and thinking "man, we know some great people."

That pretty much sums up why the weekend was completely excellent - we know some great people. I am sure that a similar event will happen later in the year, 'cos it was just too much damn fun not to do again. My heartfelt thanks and congratulations to everyone for being your badass selves.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Weekend Now Please

Mmmm, the weekend is just around the corner. Just one non-contact, one detention and 4 lessons to go. I am decidedly keen for this weekend to arrive.

This weekend Luke and Sam and Debbie and I are looking to take a tentative step towards restoring a fantastic tradition of the Mega Roleplaying Weekend. I only attended one of these, but it was a pretty awesome experience.

The system as I had it explained to me was that a whole heapin' bunch of people headed to a bach for the weekend, and gamed like crazy. Everyone had to bring something to run, and everyone had a lot of fun. There was some amount of drinking, running around on the beach, and general shenanigans, and people sleeping (or trying to) on the floor in cramped conditions. And a lot of roleplaying.

There was even a cool larp run by the esteemed Mr Sands at the MRW I went to. I played a fake ambassador from Achach-achachach, who was actually a priest of Mammon. It was a lot of fun. There was even a tribe of mini-Pitts running around.

As a step towards or homage to the MRW, we're doing a cut-down, old working people type version. A bunch of people, several games, bbq, sleeping over, but not so full-on as the days of old.

I am greatly looking forward to it - it should be a blast! I'm going to be prepared to run something, but will happily just be a player. Especially if I can get into Jenni's I Know, Right? game :)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Morning Tea is the highlight of my day

In breaking news, Matt ate a delicious morning tea today. This constitutes the highlight of his working day. Of course, the delicious saveloy in a baked piece of bread with cheese and mustard was complemented by a delicious Milo, so it would be hard for a class of students or detention monkeys to compete.

Detention was actually quite pleasant today - I only had 2 customers, and they were both very polite. Just because a student forgets their homework or doesn't feel like working when asked to in class, doesn't make them a bad person.

I was going to go into more detail about the exciting events of the day, but there aren't really that many to report on. I am watching Apocalypse Now Redux with a class, and it's quite good. Unfortunately some of the stuff that's been added in (there's about 50 minutes of extra stuff) is less than exciting, or is quite dodgy. The sequences we saw today both had women in them (breaking the otherwise extreme maleness of the film a little). One featured traumatised playboy bunnies becoming prostitutes, the other was a very boring dinner conversation. I'd say the film was better off without them.

Of course, from a curiosity point of view I'm glad to have seen them, but given that it's a long damn film to start with, I would have been happier to have the original to show my class.

Lastly, I have been ruminating on the teaching of boys, inspired by a visit from an excellent speaker. I have no real conclusions to draw, except to say that I wonder whether my start-of-the-year hard-ass-ness has actually made it difficult for some of the boys to accept my leadership. I wonder this as several of my students have begun to say hi and offer funky-incomprehensible handshakes this week, outside of class. I guess I'm currently somewhere in the no-mans-land of being a not-young-not-old guy, and they hadn't figured out where I stand in relation to other teachers. I think they've started to realise that I'm not actually old and grumpy, and while I may not be cool, there could be worse options.

I think teenage boys are disinclined to accept rigorous discipline from someone younger than their fathers. Leadership and guidance and role modeling yes, full on you-will-obey-my-every-word discipline? Not so easy. That's not to say it can't be won from them, but it's a lot of work.

Or maybe I'm just making this all up. That's fine - whatever keeps me entertained, I suppose.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Drive! While Cerebriated...

From the Cowtrap Ambulatory Extemporation Dictionary:

Cerebriated - a condition where the brain becomes overheated due to extreme use. Giddy greed for thought is likely to follow, and semi-transcendentally-coherent utterances may emerge.

Sample usage:

Person A: "Dude, you shouldn't have tried to solve that 5th conundra today. One conundrum a day is good for you, but more than 3 and you'll be totally cerebriated."

Person B (cerebriated): "But it's all connected in a one-ailty that is, like, um, universal. Ooh look, a squirell!

Cerebriated messages can often be found on forums and bbs's, where cerebriated can be abbreviated to c3r3b'd!

Friday, March 03, 2006

More Responsibilty?

It's an interesting question for me, whether I want to take on more responsibilty at work and claw my way up the ranks, or whether I want to take the most chillaxed approach possible.

I rather suspect that I would never turn down an opportunity, so I am likely to end up being given further responsibilities if I can convince the people I work with that I'm worthy of the offer. Given that I have a pretty shamelessly self-promoting streak, combined with a veneer of humility, coupled with a fairly high self-regard, I have some confidence that people see me as being a pretty competent type.

This follows what I was rambling about at J&L's wedding - my desire to break away from false modesty and self-deprecation, and be more congratulatory to others and myself. It also follows on from an arrangement where I'm going to be running a session with some senior drama students about how to operate video gears and editing software, at the request of the Head of Drama. Having been asked to film the production last year, and having done what seems to be regarded as a good job, I'm being asked to take on more responsibilities in that area.

I actually think it'd be pretty awesome to have a position of Media Specialist or something at a school, where you get a little extra $ and a little extra time, and you train people in the use of the gear that's available, shop for new gears, and take a role in promoting the school. In many ways that's more appealing than the exhausting job of being a Dean, where you spend so much time dealing with students who really don't want to be there. At least the session with senior drama students should be fun, and they're likely to be a responsive group.

Given that I do actually want to run a school at some point in the future, I should really be more committed and directly ambitious. However, I have a suspicion that I can probably do OK by improving my teaching, doing stuff about the place that I'm interested in, making sure people know when I do get things done successfully, and applying for positions that come up. And getting fully registered as a teacher would probably be good too :)