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Accomplishment chart, 2/17 – 2/23

Accomplishment chart, 2/17 – 2/23

Writing

- drafting for prose project
- drafting for short story
- outlining plot for Mrs. Hawking part 4
- 4 LiveJournal entries

Gaming/Larping
- GMed Silver Lines for friends

Teaching
- planned 2/23 lesson for Writing and the Literary Arts
- graded 20 essays for Writing and the Literary Arts
- did week 2 module of Teaching an Online Course workshop

Art
- learned how to cast off knitting
- learned how to knit the garter stitch and purl stitch

Activism
- called my reps 2 days

Physical
- 2 two-mile runs
- 3 fighter abs routines
- walked 10,000+ steps 1 day

Media
- listened to episode 94 of Tom and Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest
- read “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Cooking
- made filet mignon with steamed broccoli
- made sausage sandwiches with carrot sticks, almonds, apples, grapes, and cheese and crackers

Can a Beyoncé fan explain this to me?

I know Beyonce's visual album Lemonade has been out for a while, so there's probably already an obvious answer to this, but could somebody explain something to me about it?



It seems to be universally accepted that based on the content of the album, that she is singing about an incident of Jay-Z cheating on her in real life-- that the incident of infidelity she is singing about is something that actually happened to her with her actual husband.

Can somebody explain to me WHY everyone is so sure that she's singing about her own true experiences? I mean, LITERALLY EVERYBODY seems to accept this as truth; I've never seen a single person question that. But how do we know? What is the reason why we believe that?

It can't just be because she sang about it, right? She's an artist! Not everything an artist says in their art or puts into it is necessarily autobiographical. Just because she's the one singing the song and performing in the video doesn't mean that she isn't playing a character or speaking in the voice of a person other than herself. I'm reminded of how everybody thought that Better Than Ezra's "Beautiful Mistake" meant that guy actually had a dad who walked out on his family, when it reality it was just a story made up for the song. Also, Jay-Z was pretty instrumental in promoting Lemonade and releasing it, so it seems a little odd that he'd have such a chill attitude about it if the piece was all about telling the world he was a cheating jackass. And not that I follow them that closely, but the couple doesn't seem to have much in the way of strife between them, if one of them supposedly betrayed the other.

So... why does no one question that Beyoncé's song is supposed to be about her own life? Is it something in the visual album? Full disclosure: I have not actually watched Lemonade, though it's such a cultural phenomenon I know I should. But I'm so fascinated by this universal agreement on how it's a window in their actual real lives. Can somebody explain it to me?

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The embarrassing origin of my screen name

Apparently I feel like telling funny stories about my stuff lately!

Today I was asked where the name I use online, and as a sort of "company" name for myself, Breaking Light, came from. I use it to represent myself because I like the sound of it-- for some reason "break" and variations thereof are among my favorite words --and because it has some meaning that's important to me. I see it as evocative of light that bursts through the darkness, a nice metaphor for hope, a concept I've struggled with for a lot of my recent life.

But as to how the actual words first occurred to me? They're a mishearing of a lyric in a Scott Stapp song.

...yeah.

For those who quite understandably don't know who that is, Scott Stapp is the former lead vocalist of a band called Creed. This band no longer exists, and seem to be best known for their weird undertone of Christian rock religiosity and the exceptionally melodramatic character to both their lyrics and the particular performance style Mr. Stapp brought to their songs. Seeing as my taste in music is flatly terrible, of course I kind of liked them and still have a couple of their songs in my iPod. My dear youareverysmall mocked me mercilessly for it back in the day, as was right and proper, and there's still one song I can't hear without imagining them imitating the ridiculous singing style.

So upon the breakup of Creed, our main man Scott embarked on a solo career, which I gather was not terribly successful as nobody knows who he is outside of Creed. But he released an album where the title track had a fair bit of play on the radio, so while you probably wouldn't know it by name, you might recognize the sound of it if you heard it. I spend a lot of time in the gym, which always tends to constantly have pop stations playing, where I recognized the voice and of course my awful musical tastes kicked in. I found it pleasing enough to pay attention to the song, which is called "The Great Divide." But because Stapp's voice singing voice sounds like he's midway through a transformation into a werewolf, his diction is not always the best. And I misheard "the great divide" in the chorus as "the breaking light," which immediately fired my imagination, and stayed with me to the point where I've adopted it as my branding.

Honestly this happens to me fairly frequently, where I think I hear a song lyric as something that I think is really cool, but it turns out I didn't hear it accurately. But that turns out to be even better, because then it's MINE now, and I'm not stealing from the song. Like in this case, where I got a cool expression!

So, yes. I chose my name from an inaccurate perception of a song in the unremarkable solo career of the former lead singer of an awful Christian rock band. Inspiring!

Raveling

I have recently started learning to knit. This past weekend I attended a lovely craft swap party organized by twilighttremolo where I dropped off a bunch of crafting supplies I wasn't using and found a bunch of other people brought needles and yarn they no longer wanted. So I grabbed a couple of pairs of needles (one size nine pair and one small circular set) and a few balls of yarn. The yarn was mostly gray, I am amused to note, as I recently laughed over one Christmas where I received not one but three gray sweaters from various family members. What can I say, I like gray. Mom hated my gray phase in high school, so I guess this is my revenge.

Knitting is something I've always wanted to try. I like making things with my hands and it seemed relaxing. I figured since I could get the supplies for free in this I might as well finally do it. I taught myself some basic stuff from a couple of Youtube videos, and at this point I can cast on, do a garter stitch, and purl. I actually struggled a LOT initially, but in sticking with it I managed to pick it up okay. I've been practing whenever I have a minute, making rows upon rows of nothing in particular. At first I just did a million garter stitches, then once I learned the purl I did a few rows of that, and now I'm working on alternative between them one by one.



I'm really enjoying the physical act of it, though being me I have my typical reservations, like the fact that it's not the best use of my time, and I don't really like knitted things, so I don't know what I'll do with anything I make. But I've been having trouble doing anything I can't see "building to some point later," and it's made me lose a lot of time doing nothing just because I can't find the absolute best use of it, and I haven't been letting myself do things just because I might enjoy them. So maybe this will be good for me to have a thing I do simply because it makes me feel good. It's nice to learn a new practical skill, and another way to make things with my hands.

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Intercon Q con report - Spring River

As most Intercon attendees know, the snowstorm over the weekend made it so a lot of people were unable to make it-- including the main chunk of Alleged Entertainment. That meant without Nat, Vik, Susan, or Vito, the entire GM team of Spring River couldn't arrive. So in order to keep the game from having to be cancelled, I joined Dave Kapell and Diana Hsu in stepping in at the last minute to run the larp.

It did mean having to cram some information at the last moment, but fortunately the game is not that hard to run. It requires periodic action on the GMs' part, but a lot of it is scripted, and as long as you follow the schedule in the runtime notes, it's easy. And I've played it before, so I knew the shape of it and what to expect from the players. It's an unusual game, where every PC is playing one defining personality trait within a handful of larger characters, and must navigate through life's journey making important decisions by committee. As Nat told me, the players ask a lot of clarifying questions in the first hour or so, then mostly they get wrapped up in trying to work things out with their fellow personality traits and trying to communicate between groups. I actually made some incorrect calls about the larger world outside the main characters, but fortunately it doesn't really affect the trajectory as long as you run the life decisions according to plan.

Dave and Diana kindly let me leave a little early, because I had an hour drive home from the hotel, I missed the game's debrief. Apparently sometimes people have strong emotional reactions to the game and find it useful to talk it through with the GMs afterward. I didn't find it necessary in my own experience, though I will say I did have one of the strongest and strangest experiences of bleed when I played in my run that I'd ever had in a larp role. But the players seemed to be really enjoying it most of the time, so I was very glad to be able to contribute to that. I'm glad that I could report back to Nat that his game not only ran, but ran successfully to PC enjoyment. It takes a village, I guess, to raise a larp con. 😋

Accomplishment chart, 2/10 - 2/16

Accomplishment chart, 2/10 - 2/16

Writing

- applied for writer’s assistant job
- drafting for prose project
- began work on story story
- scribbling for Mrs. Hawking scenes
- 3 LiveJournal entries

Gaming/Larping
- played Suffragette Slamdown at Intercon Q
- GMed Silver Lines and Spring River at Intercon Q

Teaching
- did week 1 module of Teaching an Online Course workshop
- planned 2/13 and 2/15 lessons for Writing and the Literary Arts

Activism
- called my reps 3 days

Physical
- 2 two-mile runs
- 1 fighter abs routines
- walked 10,000+ steps 2 days
- walked 15,000+ steps 2 days

Media
- listened to episode 93 of Tom and Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest
- read “Sweat” short story by Zora Neale Hurston

Cooking
- made broiled sirloin steaks with steamed broccoli

Funny story about my personal website

I really need to overhaul my personal website, PhoebeRoberts.com. I slapped it together years ago so that it would exist in case anybody wanted to look up me or my work, telling myself I'd improve it later when I had a minute. But I never really got around to it, and as it is, it doesn't look very slick. I'd like to make it look a little more aesthetic and professional. I'm no web designer, but I did put together MrsHawking.com and it looks okay, so I can probably do a little better than the thrown-together version I've got now.

Now I'll tell you a kind of funny story about my personal website. A while ago I wrote a post on Captain America's hair in The Winter Soldier, and it's easily the most popular post on there. It gets more hits and comes up in more Internet searches than any of the others. Sure, it's partially because it's the only one that deals with a popular branded character. But it gets a LOT of hits specifically from people searching his hairstyle in that film.

But what cracks me up is probably NONE of these people are searching for what that post actually is-- an exegesis on what that styling tells us about the character from a narrative standpoint. I'd bet money that every single person searching that wants information on how to imitate that hairstyle, or what to tell their stylist in order to get it. That post has NOTHING in how to do that hair, only what I think that hair "means" as character information. Which is interesting to only the very tiny subset of the population that cares about the semiotics of costume design as a storytelling tool.

It cracks me up that the far and away most popular post in the site is probably enjoyed by literally zero of the people that were drawn to it. 😝

Intercon Q con report - Silver Lines

The highlight of my weekend was the running of Silver Lines, my mystery tabletop-game-turned-larp set in the future of the Mrs. Hawking storyline. As I mentioned, this was the first time I ever ran it as a true larp, with physical locations and physical props, and I was nervous about how it would turn out. But I am pleased to report that with the invaluable support of in_water_writ as co-GM, it was a definite success!



I love mysteries, and if I may say so myself, I'm getting pretty good at writing them. Base Instruments is my most recent serious triumph in the genre, and this one turned out really strong as well. Good thing, because two of my players, specifically those who took on the roles of Mary and Arthur, signed up expressly because they wanted to solve a murder mystery. So it was important that it be good.

I really love this story, and I think the game itself works really well. It tells a moment of the greater Hawking story that is unlikely to ever make it into a play, but still is fitting and important. This run also drove home to me how flexible it is as a module. It only has five players, which is pretty easy to fill, but at least three out of five can be seamlessly any gender, and all but one can be turned into an NPC who the PCs can encounter and get necessary information from. It's as open to as much or as little character-based roleplaying as you like, or you can focus on making the mystery solving your primary drive.

The physicality of it, the props and the locations, worked well. Jenn and I divided the NPCs equally between us, which worked well because it enabled one of us to interact with players while the other prepared other aspects of the game. The players suggested that sound design could be used to further flesh out the locations, such as crowd noise or music to set the scenes.

The players went through it VERY efficiently. In previous forms, all of which were more tabletop-style, the game took about four hours, but this group reached the end in a little over two. That surprised me a little, but they seemed to have fun, so I didn't mind. And they didn't miss any of the planned parts of the game. I really enjoyed running it the whole time, and I'm really indebted to Jenn for helping me. She did an amazing job!

I'm looking forward to rerunning this larp version at Festival of the Larps 2017 April 28th-30th at Brandeis University. If you'd like to play, be sure to come out then!
This was the only game I was playing this Intercon, and I was excited for it. I am most interested in period storytelling these days, and the clashing of ethnic gangs around the time of the great migration while fighting for women's rights sounded great to me.

I was able to costume quite easily-- I could tweak the Victorian stuff I've collected for the Mrs. Hawking plays --so I looked pretty on-point. I liked the character I got cast as too; I think I was one of the more villainous roles, an upper-class society girl who was out for herself. I love playing villains and having an excuse to be awful, so that was fun for me. I also had a lot of friends in this game with me, which always improves a larp experience, partially because of enjoying the company, and partially because it makes it easier to give yourself over to being a character with people you're comfortable with.

I had a solid conception of myself and my goals, though if I had any critique of the game, was that it could have used more thought as to what pursuit of those goals would mean for in-game play. All the ideas were definitely there, but I wasn't finding a ton of avenues to pursue the things I was supposed to be interested in. But I was okay with it, as I had fun with pure interactions, and I managed to find more things to do. I actually received a compliment from another player on my ability to actually be racist and classist, which a lot of players shy from due to squeamishness. That's understandable, I guess, but it sure takes a lot of tension out of a situation where the villain doesn't want to actually be bad. So I'm always happy to play that role.

I will say that players that didn't have much to do with the gang war "boardgame" aspect of it didn't have a ton of agency to affect the goings-on, which made me slightly disappointed, even if I tend away from mechanics-driven storytelling in games. I know the larp as a whole suffered because the GMs, the excellent Haz and Ada, had some personal issues that made it so they were not able to spend as much time putting it together as they might have otherwise. But the premise and concepts are solid, and with the time to rework some of the in-game function it'll be excellent, I'm sure of it. I'm glad I played and had a good time.

Accomplishment chart, 2/3 – 2/9

Accomplishment chart, 2/3 – 2/9

Writing
- drafting for prose project
- brainstorming for Who Framed Roger Rabbit exegesis
-3 LiveJournal entries

Gaming/Larping
- printing for Silver Lines larp at Intercon Q
- gathered props for Silver Lines larp to run at Intercon Q
- had GM meeting with inwaterwrit for running Silver Lines larp to run at Intercon Q
- agreed to GM for Spring River at Intercon Q

Art
- drew Radical Moose Lambs doodle

Teaching
- planned 2/7 and 2/9 lessons for Writing and the Literary Arts

Website
- made gallery of Vivat Regina pictures from Arisia 2017 performance

Activism
- called my reps 3 days

Physical
- 2 two-mile runs
- 2 fighter abs routines
- walked 10,000+ steps 3 days

Media
- listened to episode 92 of Tom and Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest
- read “Do not go gentle into that good night” poem by Dylan Thomas

Cooking
- made roast chicken, vegetarian pot pie, roast asparagus, steamed potatoes, and mushroom duxelles with toast points
- made broiled top sirloin with steamed asparagus
- made 2 turkey avocado sub sandwiches
- made broiled center cut pork chops with steamed carrots and creamy polenta
- made meatballs in red sauce with steamed broccoli
- made a chocolate cake with a cooked cream icing

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Recent Productions:

2016 WCSF logo with Day


MRS. HAWKING part 1 and 2


at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Mrs. Hawking
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM

and

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 7th 2016
in the Auditorium at Government Center
at 119 School Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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