When it comes to Cory + Sharlie Erb, I doubt even seven books could cover such a story. Let's just put it this way: I once came home to Hedwig at my door. And a month later attended--hands down--the best Potter Party yet. Because here's the thing about these two: they don't do life by halves. For Sharlie's 24th this dynamic duo crafted and posted all acceptance letters, organized and categorized all guests by costume and feast fare, made their apartment every bit as magical as the Great Hall, ran Ollivander's wand shop, monitored the Goblet of Fire, kept Honeyduke's stocked with all the fan favorites, created sets and props worthy of any top-notch production studio, and then proceeded to top it all off with the single best party game to come out of the known Potterverse--a Quidditch/Taboo/Trivia mash-up they created themselves. 

Guys. I'm pretty quiet, mostly. Whatever personality profile you want to assign me--Blue, INJF, Marianne Dashwood--my party style is absolutely Behind the Scenes. Games? Not so much. But this game? I would throw a party just to play this game, no Potter theme necessary. I would call all my friends together just to play this game on a weeknight. I would pull randoms from the college crowd just to play this game in the middle of campus. I would write up an entire blog post just to get other people to play this game and understand the absolute epicness of it all. Which, oh look. I did.

So, with the Erb's blessing: Ladies and gentlemen, muggles and magics, we give you

- Q U I D O O V I A - 

you will need: 
-  two teams
-  two Seekers from each team
-  two Keepers from each team
-  one Beater from each team
-  sixteen golden snitches, eight for each team
-  all seven Harry Potter novels
-  Harry Potter Taboo cards 
   (Cory made his own; you can, too!)
-  Taboo timer
-  a Madam Hooch to referee 
   (a Lee Jordan for commentary optional)

how to play:
One thing I especially loved about this game was that anyone could play, from Dursleys to Dumbledores. Once we'd been sorted into houses and then further divided into two teams (we split Gryffindor + Hufflepuff vs. Slytherin + Ravenclaw), we ran a quick survey to get a feel for Harry Potter knowledge in the group. Those who hadn't even so much as bothered with the movies were assigned Seeker status and sent to search out their eight team snitches (in this case, golden golf balls labeled by Hogwarts House) that had been hidden about the house beforehand. The ones determined to be somewhat (ahem) fanatic became the team's Keepers, prepared to answer the toughest trivia at a moment's notice.

From there, the real game begins. The rest of the team (Chasers) take turns playing Taboo Potter-style, and if they get through three cards in the allotted 30 seconds, they have "thrown the quaffle" and it's up to the opposing team's Keeper to block the shot by answering a trivia question. If incorrect, the goal is good and the shooting team earns 15 points. And those Beaters? Every Taboo round a Beater from the opposite side stands over the Taboo-ing Chaser's shoulder to make sure they don't say any of the taboo words. If they do say any of the taboo words . . . Bludger via pillow to the head (told you there was something for everyone).

But the real score awaits the Seekers, and then ultimately the Keepers. The Taboo rounds end only when the Seekers return with all their eight snitches, and fifty points go to the team who managed the feat first. However, after all the scores have been added up, the losing team has the chance to challenge the winning team in a duel to the death. In the event of such a challenge, each team chooses their Dueler and a Second who then face their foes at the front of the crowd, wands---er, minds at the ready. The referee reads out one final trivia question and the duelers have thirty seconds to find the answer in one of the books provided for them. And with the win, cue the chorus. Weasley is Our King. 

Caught the vision? Play the game. Let me know. This could be the beginning of great things.

On an entirely other note: I have entered the realm of animated gifs. Oh no. (Told you there was a puppy.)

Did I mention the Moving Portraitbooth? There was a moving portraitbooth. I know. We all wish we had thought of it first.



wednesday wisdom.

Be pretty if you are, be witty if you can,
but be cheerful if it kills you.

Carved into the chimney brick at my Welsh professor's house. Took it as my personal mantra for Summer 2008. Three a.m. departures? Cobblestoned sleepovers? That slug in Andrea's ice cream? nbd.

The somewhat pathetic paper-cut a la Rob Ryan is my small tribute to No. 6 Strathnairn Street, my Cardiff flat way back when. Definitely a product of the five-in-the-morning portion of my Essential E deadline sprint.



hroom, hm, come, my friends. the ents are going to war.
So I attend a university that doesn't believe in Spring Break, which is mostly okay until everyone else and their dog is packing a swimsuit and off for the week, at which point you get in your car and head west anyway. Pack some string cheese and soy nuts, bring a book or two, climb a Lone Rock. Or at least that's what we did. Strange, the things you find just over the Oquirrhs.


when you go:

1. Write a novel on a napkin at The Elephant House. Keep a lookout for Bertie on Scotland Street. Feel your familial bones break for the beauty of crag and moor.

2. Run a morning mile along Hadrian's Wall. Return at sunset. Believe in time travel.

3. Play 1, 2, 3, He's Yours in Oxford. If bored of natty boys on bicycles, reevaluate your sanity--and if still not convinced of the power in a particularly dapper suspenders/bowtie combo (who are you?!), take in an afternoon of the Ashmolean before finishing off a book at the Bodleian.

4. Make a scavenger hunt of the blue history plates in London. Spend an afternoon with Sir John Soane. Ask the doorman if it's possible to live at the NPG.

5. Head home to Cardiff. Read Under Milk Wood on the walk to Castell Coch. Take the family out for some Monday night music at Y Mochyn Du. Visit the Doctor.

6. Order sticky toffee pudding at Seend's Barge Inn. Fall a little bit in love with the waiter. (If it's meant to be, it will be.)

7. Wade out to St. Michael's Mount. Follow the Grail trail to Tintagel. Send a letter from Land's End.


Heard the phrase "ordinary aliveness" today. 
Not sure what exactly was meant by it in context, but I doodled this 
amidst alternate sketches in the Hans Holbein vein (kind of on a Dutch portraitist kick).


dare disturb the universe.

a few of my favorite things

stars and stories about stars, planetariums, charts celestial, telescopes, constellations, the southern cross, magellanic clouds, summer nights and winter nights and also autumn and spring, the deep navy black of dark mountain midnights, that translucent turquoise along the night sealine, watching stars with the one you love, feeling the earth move, the mystical moist night-air, the first star, the second star to the right, written in the stars and star-crossed lovers, starry-eyed.

foxes and folklore about foxes, the tail of it, llwynog from llwyn, reynards and vixens and kits and fuxs, all in a skulk or a troop or an earth. in Mali they are the trickster gods of the desert, chaos incarnate, and in Peru they are mind-fighting warriors and in China they have nine tails and did you know, the word shenanigan is considered to be derived from the Irish sionnachuighim, I play the fox. red foxes, kit foxes, fleet foxes and meine gedanken sind wo die Fuchs und Hase gute nacht sagen geblieben.

also, modernists; particularly poets, cummings and eliot and thomas and pound plus whitman and sylvia and edna, too. (sun moon stars rain)

Yet another page from The Essential E: A Pocket Guide.

in other news,

If this were a webcomic it would be called I Don't Even Know because seriously, people, I do not. even. know. but it probably wouldn't amount to much since (apart from the fact that I quite obviously can't draw hands) mostly this would mean only variations on this face:

and the occasional puppy. Which you think would get pretty old but thus far it's been the more entertaining aspect of my week and the forecast is only turning all the stranger.

Speaking of strange things and also webcomics, you should probably be reading this.



In my backpack, besides the necessary textbooks and occasional laptop, extant of the obligative pencil case and always wallet, I carry with me:

+  two Pilot P-500 pens, extra-fine, back-up in case my other three Pilot P-500s fail me or in the event Staples decides to discontinue (again) stocking the Only True Pen in the Known Universe, a fact that I know because you don't just spend half of your high school life testing ink fluidities and line variations for nothing.

+  a pack of post-its, the small half-size sort, orange--which is unfortunate because I prefer the classic yellow or neon pink if absolutely imperative, but these were given as a gift and so I have to use them but mostly they look worn and warped and weary of two months travel in the front pocket without much play (yes, people gift me post-its).

+  four bobby pins, the usual black but actually quite miraculous seeing as with four bobby pins you can twist any amount of hair up into the perfect party bun, which is not only the latest Parisian trick but the answer to every bad hair day you've ever had.

+  two safety pins, the genesis of which I question but imagine will be a smart thing to have eventually.

+  a red pocket-size Moleskine, college-ruled, in which I write ideas when they strike (occasionally this actually happens) or notes on gathering the universe, like "Ernesto Miranda was killed in a knife fight. Police used a Miranda card from Miranda's own pocket to read his killer's rights." And "The first typewriter was called a 'literary piano.'" Or "What if you had a dramaturgue for your own life?" Which is a good question, because who doesn't want someone exploring and researching and understanding all the ins and outs and throughs of what makes something work and succeed and shine?

+  my Oyster card for the London Underground. In case of emergency.

+  Burt's Bees beeswax lip balm, classic Vitamin E + Peppermint because nothing else is ever so minty-fresh and moisturizing (do you hate that word as much as I do?), and also kissable because you just never know (really, you don't).


meet the family.

(2) parents (3) siblings (1) dog (1) cat
steve+susan, elizabeth olivia naomi daniel, truly, mr. knightley

Also there are rabbits and once there were chickens, plus gerbils I DID NOT KILL, DAD, and in New Zealand there were Max + Rupert, two sheep that snorted willow leaf in the paddock around from the dove cote where one time there was a rogue pigeon that we tried to catch ourselves with cardboard boxes and such but in the end we just called a bird whisperer and that was a whole lot faster.

doing, did, done.

Other than those three days spent with and without a voice, dreaming in fevers, and wondering if it's possible to overdose on cough drops, most of my week was that mad culmination of major projects hitting deadline and the subsequent all-nighters. The Essential E was one such project, my response to a midterm prompt asking for a visual autobiography in my Rhetoric + Design class. Three weeks of thumbnails and paper-piecing, one serious-sketch mock-up and a straight thirty-six hours later . . . et le voilĂ . Plan on a page-by-page in the days to come, but for now: sleep. Is such a good idea.