The City Rises….and Takes Europa and Verre Darkly with it….

When Thomas first starting making noises about creating an online game to go with his upcoming album, A Map of the Floating City, I certainly had my doubts.

Thomas has always been a catalyst as long as I have known him, and it’s clear this has been the case for longer than that. He comes up with an idea, and just runs with it, no idea how to do it or exactly who does, but he’s off and sprinting down the street far ahead of you. He’s running with scissors over and over again.

The world needs the dreamers. And Thomas has this amazing ability to catch you up in what he is doing, and before you know it, you’re hooked in and believing, too.
I don’t know how he does it.

You start out flying down to San Francisco to discuss going on a tour as the booth bunny selling concert shirts, and you end up doing that AND being the tour manager AND the one managing/herding the aftershow meet n’ greets at the same time.

I still don’t know how that one happened. Which is perfect Thomas. It just happens.

But I have learned to trust him, which is a testament to his vision and lack of fear in chasing after it, even if he has no idea how to get from the vision to reality. He finds people who can help him, and take his ideas and work with him and make them come true.

As folks came together for The Floating City (FC), we starting meeting each other on Google Wave to talk about ways to promote the album. This got too prolific, bulky, and easy to get lost in, and when we heard Google Wave was going south, we moved to Skype.

Somewhere in there, when the plot started to form and people were thinking about characters, Thomas mentioned having objects and people from his songs, and I jokingly yelled “Shotgun!” on Europa.

She had no plot, nothing, but when the time came in our discussions in Skype chat, he remembered. “Lunesse has dibs on Europa!”

The rest is just weeks of planning, coding, and a lot of hard work by the developers. We all went nuts making WAY too crazy plots for the FC that were completely over detailed and complex. (We had faith in Dolby fans, they could handle it.) But we hoped to have a gaming crowd, too, who maybe never had heard of his music. Dolby fans are quite a unique, cerebral bunch, and we knew gamers were too…but they’d have to be indoctrinated before going off chasing equations, mad scientist theories and math that makes MY head hurt.

As a G.O.D., we didn’t all have the whole picture. At all. I had been sent a basic plot line, since Europa was to be a part of it, to embellish and add to. For a while, all of us were adding character personalities and other ideas on a wiki. The storyline grew in a very organic fashion.

I decided that since Europa was going to disappear for a large hunk of the game, I didn’t want to sit around doing nothing watching everyone else have fun, so I made a secondary character.

Verre (“glass” in French, I am a glass artist)was created from the start to be a sort of Greek Chorus. I thought at first she’d be for anyone to use who needed a deus ex machina. So it was fitting she also became a G.O.D. Her visions allowed her to gently push plot if things were totally going…. AWRY (inside joke for you FCers). That aspect of Verre was not used as much as I had thought, mostly to keep Europa in the minds of players after her kidnap. And I pretty much was the only one who used her, which was great.

That was a hard day. Europa didn’t say much, being under such strict watch by Po. We needed more players to be aware of her, so a live chat was decided upon, where Europa would meet in a bar with her old friend Soot, and the players could have real face to face time for the first time, while that plot unfolded. I worked with Soot to create lines that week, we got on Skype voice chat with some other G.O.D.s and devs while we unloaded our lines in chat, half scripted, half spontaneous. This was terrific fun, but when Europa left I felt sad, knowing she would be gone for weeks, and she was so loved, the players really took to her, trying to help her have some joy the life set before her.

And, now you know why Verre wasn’t there. ;)

The courtroom trial, the first one, was just epic. It was a LOAD of fun, with Andrea, Sara, Nikki, Paul, Grant, Thomas, Melissa and me all crowded in one live Skype chat, all talking behind the scenes while we went through the scene. Hearing the voices of some of these people was fantastic. I hadn’t seen Grant in years, nor Melissa, and have never met Paul, Nikki, Andrea or Sara in person. I wish everyone who played the game could experience what that hour was like. So much spontaneous extra dialogue, and the players! They players were amazing! We needed them quiet to get through the scene, unlike the crazy, busy bar where Europa and Soot had drinks, and they behaved perfectly! I had never seen an online chat so raptly paying attention.

The best part there was when one player came back from a Sortie, which are adventures the players could do to gain points, items and often a free download of Thomas’ music. The sortie held evidence that was needed for the trial, it turned out, for while the players behaved, they had an idea of their own how the story should go, which was exciting and live and oh NOW what do we do…..until that player arrived with information and sort of broke through the wall from player to actor. That for me was part of the magic of the game, when it was so real and fun the players became part of it as true characters.

By the way Verre WAS at that trial, but she had to duck out right before Europa showed up….so that Thomas could take her over temporarily, she had one very important line! ;)

I could go on, and on, but I will wrap it up.

It was VERY fun for me to NOT be Lunesse in the Floating City. I LOVE working for Thomas. Even when the work is crazy and there’s way too much and how the HELL can this all get done…even when I swore on tour I would never do his laundry, and like the sucker I am, I found myself watching his underwear spinning around and around in a dryer. I love his fans. I love helping them learn more about his music and answering questions as best I can, and watching their joy when they hear his music, or get to meet him backstage. Best job in the world.

But fun to leave behind while still staying in the Dolby universe. I got to role play both a character near and dear to many, and create a new one to float around without knowing the answers to esoteric Dolby questions. I got to interact and have fun without being the admin or the code monkey.

But I hope to see many of the players join up at Thomas’ official forum, The Flat Earth Society to hang out and make plans to meet as tour dates come up over the rest of this year and next year. I am honored to have been Europa, officially. I asked to have her back after the game ended, so that I can still use her on the FC forum. She’s fun.

Verre is still around too, but her character was slowly turning solid.

From her profile:
“She is accidentally affected by the powerful electrolysis cathodes fixed to the hull of her vessel. They are designed to attract coral and plankton, but they seem to be gradually turning Verre into a statue—someday, without help she will be just that, a solid maritime organism, frozen in time, gazing out over the bow of her vessel like a tragic Greek goddess.” The Greek Goddess who was the Greek chorus. Perhaps it is best she is left to gaze out across the sea from her old boat, so in love with her tribe and her alliance, with visions of a brighter future where everything knits together as it should.

It was an honor. I have met such talent in the rest of the team, in their creativity, their art, their humor and the dedication to supporting the Dreamer all the way to the end. We did it, ALL OF US who raised the city, player and G.O.D. and developers alike. See you in cyberspace, FCers. Don’t be shy!

Geekery

Gratuitous Post to show my friend @ThomasDolby something, and give you all a chance to follow him on Twitter. Because he IS awesome. Did you know he has a new album coming out soon? How freaking cool is that?

As you were.

Lights in the rain

It’s another rainy Sunday here in Oregon. But we will probably put up the holiday lights anyway. Last night we went out to dinner at New Seasons, a local schmancy grocery store, and Derek saw his first holiday lights of the year. He was VERY excited, and kept saying “Who else in this neighborhood has their Christmas lights up?” and “Oh that is so PRETTY!” He is so sweet. I hope we can record him saying these things. Last year what he said was “Can we find more lights?” And the year before that….not much at all since he had very few words…

I am very busy. I am doing a lot of work on Thomas Dolby’s site right now, it is deep in crunch time on that one. And I just started working on a new site, another band called the Shanghai Woolies, a local band that plays hot jazz. And I have lots to do on the website for Derek’s preschool, as that is my volunteer parent job. And of course, the beads, the glass, the straws. Plus being a Mom and a wife. Busy! Very busy. I need things to settle down, but I am not sure when that will happen. The immediate crush should slow in a few days and not be so hectic.

I’m still in my pajamas. It’s been a nice, long week of DLJ being home. We were going to go to LA for Thanksgiving but it was canceled at the 11th hour, my MIL was very sick and didn’t want us to come. So we went to the coast instead. It was nice, we had two days that were cloudy, but also partly clear, with no rain, so Derek got some beach time in, we went to the Oregon Aquarium on Thanksgiving Day, which was a GREAT day to go. There were less than 200 people wandering the whole place, it was like it was rented out for a private party or something in terms of our freedom to roam around and see very few other people.

While life is very busy right now, I am grateful for the busy. It means I have work to do, art to do, ways to help friends with their work, and a great family to be a part of.

Museum.

I forgot. I have to go out to the studio and prep for a demo at the Museum of Contemporary Craft tomorrow. And I need to bring my camera so I can take a photo of my work on exhibit before the show gets taken down in a week or so.

I haven’t played in my studio since before Christmas, I have been so busy and the rain has been relentless. I still love it though, the sound of it on the roof and hitting the lawn outside doesn’t get old. I would like a nice, sunny day, however.

I told Derek today we were going to get some salmon for dinner, and he added, “get bacon, too?” I guess he takes after Dad. I like New Seasons bacon, it has no nitrites in it, but I didn’t have the time to trek over there.

You know,  this quickly turned into  a very boring domestic entry. I actually have a lot going on in my brain right now. I am supposed to go to London in February, a very, VERY short trip. It was short by my decision, so that Derek, who has not been away from me for more than about 10 hours, wouldn’t have to deal with my absence for too long. I could have stayed longer with my friend Thomas, but we are planning a trip specifically to stay with him in the nearish future, and I felt like I couldn’t do that on my own without the family, also a reason for cutting it so short. But now, it’s in upheaval in my head for several reasons. Being away from Derek, being someone who hates flying and cannot sleep on planes then dealing with jet lag, plus being on gig-time while I am there, as I would be helping out and enjoying a very special sold out gig of a very special friend’s…and not have much time to do anything else. Combine that with not having a hope of recovering with a day of sleep when I get home (re: Derek) and  the eco footprint of such a long flight for such a short time, plus United screwed up the schedule and is sending me both there AND back on different flights with different layovers in different cities than I booked with…

I’m still struggling to decide. I know what my gut says, and usually my gut is the “GO GIRL, GO!” type and this time…it’s whispering something else instead of that.

I have a little more time to think on it. Either way, I win, and either way, I lose.

Anyway. I have to get in glass/demo/informal lecture mode now, to teach some folks tomorrow about how fun working with molten glass is!

p.s. BT has a new album coming out! Makes the BT/Dolby tour seem so far away, yet the days on the bus just like yesterday all at the same time. I am very much looking forward to it.

I’m going to write more. Now that I can write at ye olde lunesse.com again easily, and have it go to LJ, I should do more than little updates. I used to write so much stuff…

Speaking of that, the server that lunesse.com originally lived on, saturn5, went dark last week after 10+ years of free hosting. I moved lunesse.com itself from that site some time ago, once DLJ and I were together and could get unlimited domains hosted where we park our sites.

All the old stuff was still at saturn5, though, and it was a handy reference. Of course, I have downloaded all my stuff from those old days when I wrote a hell of a lot more stuff, and more interesting stuff than I do know. I used to be so unguarded…why has that changed? I mean, I still write, and at Livejournal my journal is friends only so I know who is reading. It changed before Derek was around. And after DLJ was in my life, but I don’t think that is the reason.

I appreciate privacy more than I used to when I had a webcam trained on me 24-7. Some of it might actually be knowing, and watching Thomas. Every now and then there’s a fan who goes a little south, a little too much entitlement. I was so new at the role of watching over him, as opposed to being with him, when we were on tour, that I didn’t know yet how to watch correctly, in terms of how much, how many, when, when it came to fans and reading his headspace. Towards the end he would tell me when he wanted to be alone when we saw stragglers hanging out by the bus, or on the sidewalk, and I got better along the way of asking him, but watching him need space, made me yearn to need space myself. Of course, no one wants in my space like they do Thomas’, but somehow, protecting and nurturing my space became more important after life on the road, and how crowded we all were together.

And of course, now, with a toddler who actually gets MAD when I sit on the potty, and tries to push me off it, privacy is pretty scarce.

But a blog is no place for privacy. Why have one? :p I mean, unless you really ARE writing for yourself.

Ok, was that enough meta?

I am glad the birds are back in town, Spring is really here. Though I wonder if they wake Derek in the early morning. I doubt it, he can nap through lawnmowers next door. This afternoon I don’t know what we are doing, maybe seeing a friend, I have some sunflower seeds to plant, maybe he and I can do that. I am looking forward to the weekend. I would like the warm weather to come back. Spring is here, but she’s a tease!
Here’s Derek in the bicycle trailer from last weekend with his new helmet.

derekbiketrailer

Woot, two in a day!

Are you lucky, huh?

I am unwinding from the day, Derek is asleep.
While I was feeding him lunch the doorbell rang, and it was the postman holding my envelope with Holistic Moms flyers…with no stamps on it! Der! He didn’t even tell me what was wrong, I saw it immediately and scuttled off to get stamps. I am glad I was there to answer the door, 20 minutes earlier and I would have been napping along with Derek!

Our pediatrician said he’d put them out in the waiting room and already agreed to come as a speaker for us at our meetings, whatever topic we think would be suited. He also gave me a midwife and and a naturopath as connections to approach to be speakers as well. And hopefully we will have a yoga practitioner as well one time, who teaches prenatal and post natal yoga. So that is a good base to start from in terms of finding folks to come talk at meetings! I am glad to be starting this branch with a co-leader, it makes the work a lot more managed and less daunting.

Today was chilly, the first chilly day so far since summer began, if you don’t count our days at the coast. I just got some new pants and it was a good day to try them out, not a day for shorts! I haven’t bought much new clothing since Derek was born, these were a size smaller than what I was right before I got pregnant and fit with a lot of room, without being too big. I hope to go shopping for clothes in the next week or two, and it’s good to maybe know where to start in terms of sizing. I wish I liked clothes shopping, but I don’t, so I hope to find some things within a decent amount of time before I feel like fleeing the stores. I wasn’t born with that particular gene that seems to settle into the female of the species more often than not.

I am clearly missing touring and the world of Dolby. I keep having touring dreams, that are almost as busy and stressy as the real days on the road could be, but I am always so happy in the dreams to be back in that world. Someday, someday….He’s working hard on his new album and I am really jazzed for him. I miss him, he has been away from the U.S. for over a year now, and after weeks together on the road, it’s so different to have him so far away. At least I know as long as he is there and we are here, when we are ready to check out England, we have at least one place to call home! And since I know Google will pick this up on the Thomas Dolby alert: Hi Thomas! I miss you! And I got those shirts out to the rightful owners! =P

I did not get back in the studio today to start hammering my silver, maybe tomorrow. I always have things I don’t get to that I want, but if I finish most of my goals, it’s a banner day.
Ok, the belly is full of risotto and it’s time for a quick, hot shower and then snuggle into bed with a good book.

Scheduling and gladiolas.

A sunny Sunday is  welcome indeed. It was sunny this morning, then DLJ made homemade waffles and I watched rain pour down. Now it’s sunny again with only a few puffy white clouds. I planted  a good 20 gladiolus bulbs, and seeded some containers to start some things indoors. Where to put them indoors, however, is a question. They must get sun….and not tempt the cats. Tricky.

Soon I am going to check if I need to make more pizza dough, and get items for DLJ to have for a nice snack after his hard work installing the second raised vegetable bed.

Things are going to get busy soon, and the ticking clock of the march of time is going to start clamping down. We have a wedding reception up in Tacoma in April, my Mom would like to visit in May, DLJ’s parents also want to come stay a little…I have a jewelry show in May as well.

One priority that I do have, but am unsure how to deal with, is seeing Thomas again before mid-July. It’s going to be difficult after that for several reasons. But with all the scheduling over here, getting the time free before June seems iffy. And before I reach June, I can no longer fly to him due to being deep in the third trimester. I’ve had delightful stays at his house several times, and he’s only been up here once. A few days would be terrific, visiting Hood River, some light waterfall hikes, and just hanging out one more time before I become a full-fledged Mom would really mean a lot to me. I am looking forward to the kid, but let’s face it, for a few years it will be difficult for me to go anywhere alone, and I really value my alone time with my friends. When I was living in CA, Thomas and I would do all sorts of things together, rides on the motorcycle through the hills west of San Mateo, where we’d stop with a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch and talk for a couple hours. Or throwing darts in bars, hanging out at the Water Temple, just lots of time talking, talking, talking. These days most of our time has been with others, and it’s been work time. Talking business, tasks, etc. We haven’t just hung out since I moved. So we both are trying to sort out a way to do this…but nothing has arisen yet.

Thomas is just one example of this, the most “in my head” one right now. So many things will change soon, and while I know the change is not forever, and I know good things are on the way…I wish I could see him, and other really close friends again like Allison, who lives in Boston, one more time just the two of us. Having a simple tapas dinner with Allison with sangria in Boston last fall was so much fun…when will that happen again? How do I come to terms with the temporary, but long loss of these things? Readers who are already parents, help? =) It’s easier when you are the Dad, and not the 24 milk bar, ya know? I’m going to be attached for a looong time. And I’m independent enough to be realistically curious how this is all going to work.

Standing behind the merch area at Sonar, Baltimore, MD. Thomas is playing “The Flat Earth.” I have seen more than 50 Thomas Dolby concerts. Oh, that it were true for Duran Duran!

I’m ready to go home. It’s been an intense tour, only a month long, but 27 days and 24 gigs is extremely difficult. When I get home, it’s not even really “home,” but direct to the coast for the holidays with my parents. I will finally really return  home on the 26th or 27th, more than a month after I left. Kitties. Bed. DLJ.

New Years. We are planning to go to see Pink Martini at the Schnitz. This is what we did last year as well, and it’s a great way to end one year and start the next one.

I will miss tour life, but I am eager to get home to my real life, loves and days in Oregon. But with me I will have new friends. I am certain I will stay in touch with Hurdy Gurdy Ben, and perhaps even BT. One or two friends out of a bus crammed with 12 souls…works for me!

We have a new driver tonight, as our old one had previous holiday plans. He was a tad grumpy with us, but a REALLY amazing driver. You are trusting your driver with your life, as much as he nagged us, I will miss him as a driver, familiar with his ways of moving and trusting in his ability.

3 more nights on the bus. 4 more nights away from DLJ.

Leaving Palm Trees

We did it! 12 shows in 12 nights! Tonight we partay! It was a LOT of work for everyone. Tomorrow we have the day off and we will be in Columbia, S.C. Hotels! Laundry! No work!

Then it’s on to Virginia, and five more shows, before I get to go home. I’m having a good time but I really want to see DLJ and have a holiday with my parents. It’s been quite a trip. I think I have made some good friends on this tour, and I really hope to stay in touch with them. I think I will with at least one, Hurdy Gurdy Ben, as I have called him.

BT and Dolby have left the bus for a day or two, with interviews and such they are flying on ahead. This equals the mice will play while the cats are away. =)