I have spent the morning immersed in the inevitable realities of my working life, viz. checking student transcripts. This has vouchsafed to me several insights, most notably (a) that my advisors, train I them never so carefully, are bloody useless at checking course pre-requisites despite repeated reminders and pointed inscriptions on lists of "common advisor mistakes". Insight (b) is, however, more interesting and rather less depressing. Honestly, the skills and experience on which I draw most frequently in this job are those of my frivolous role-playing proclivities. I spend my days wrangling student character sheets, the lists of numbers which quantify experience and achievement, each individual mapped carefully within the constraints of the system. I am alert to rule-breaking, to player dissatisfaction and lack of success, to the judicious balance between challenge and reward, test and fulfilment. I also rely heavily on the experience gained from DMing players like rumint, whose control of the system and its potential exploits is absolute and terrifying. It's all one in the eye, really, to anyone who thinks of D&D and beyond as a waste of time. Not only is play intrinsically about experimentation and learning in a low-stakes environment, it's about understanding the shaping of behaviour through structure. Which also explains, I suppose, why I've drifted inexorably into genre theory in my academic life.
Talking about genre: David Bowie is busy releasing his first album in about ten years. The one single, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)", and particularly its video, is an utterly fascinating disquisition on fame, identity, androgyny, and an explicit and rather wry dialogue with his own past. Also, Tilda Swinton. The music is very Reality-era, which works for me.